News

16/02/2015
Lab Scientific Exits Sharakah`s Bill Discounting Program

Lab Scientific has recently exited the funding program of Sharakah by honoring the outstanding financial support provided. Jassim -owner of Lab Scientific & Laboratory Supplies LLC- has approached Sharakah in 2008 to get financial support for supplying chemicals to various organizations such as; Ministry of Health, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Royal Oman Police, Ministry of Agriculture and other corporations. Lab Scientific is the sole agent for SIGMA ALDRICH COROPORATION, which is an international leading corporation in supplying chemicals for both research fine chemical manufacturing and equipment.

Jassim Al Mamari is known for his dedication towards his business. He was recently awardedThe Best Performing Company” for the year 2014 at National Business Centre (NBC). In 2012 he won “Best Performing Company in the category of Medium Enterprises” in Omantel Business Excellence SME Awards.

“When I was introduced to Sharakah and got a better understanding of their services, I felt at ease that I would be receiving the much needed guidance and financial support. Sharakah has helped me to run my business successfully. I currently have 6 full time staff having started on my own. Operationally, I am introducing new lines of products and diverting business activities but surely in the same field of providing services for laboratories. I appreciate and thank the entire group of Sharakah for their continuous support and encouragement to continue performing well to achieve success in my field. I also value the services received from NBC” Says Jassim Al Mamary.

Sharakah`s support is not limited to financial support; it goes beyond that to ensure businesses` sustainability and growth. "In Sharakah, we welcome businesses from most sectors. To avail financial support from Sharakah, we request the business owner to submit a business plan that includes a brief about the business, the products or services offered, a review of the market, and financials amongst other things. For existing businesses we would like to get a better understanding of their financial performance so we request them to submit their audited financials." Says Halima Al Riyami, Project Specialist at Sharakah.

Sharakah aims to support more than 14 projects in 2015 with a targeted investment of Rials 840,000. New and existing businesses are welcomed to learn more about Sharakah`s services through our website. Indeed, our ultimate objective is to provide support to SMEs in Oman and help them grow nationally and regionally.
11/02/2015
OFP, the First Project to Avail Sharakah’s Shariaa Compliant Equity Scheme

OFP LLC signed an agreement yesterday with Sharakah to receive financial support to set up a ` Manufacturing unit’ in Nizwa Industrial Estate. Sharakah and OFP will jointly invest to setup the factory. The Agreement was signed by Mr. Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah and Mr. Loay Al Haj, Board Member of OFP.

OFP will set up a medium size manufacturing unit in Nizwa Industrial Estate to cater to the huge demand from petrochemical, fertilizer, power, desalination, waste water and other industries.

Speaking at the signing ceremony Mr. Loay Al Haj, Board member, OFP said “We are delighted to have signed this agreement with a professional institute as Sharakah to assist us in setting up the unit. The market shows great potential for our product given the demand from large projects in various sectors. We have teamed up with experts to produce quality products.”

Loay has over 11 years of experience in the Oil and Gas industry locally in PDO and another 7 years internationally from the United States and the Netherlands. Throughout his career he has worked in various positions as a Technical Consultant, Senior Production Engineer and Thermal WRM Team Leader.

Zuwaina Al Badai, Investment Manager at Sharakah commented saying “OFP is a project that deserves recognition for it is the first project to avail the Shariaa Compliant Equity Scheme, it is identified in the list of In-Country-Value (ICV) by the Omani Oil and Gas companies, it covers a need in the local and regional market, it would provide more than 60 employment opportunities at least 30% of them will be for Omanis, and it helps transfer knowledge and expertise in the local market. We are delighted that they have chosen Sharakah as a partner and we ensure them that our partnership goes beyond financing. We are truly excited to support this project for its objective of ultimately maximizing Oman ICV”

The unit will start setting up during the 2nd quarter of this year and is expected to start production towards the end of the year.

Sharakah believes in the potential of local businesses to grow nationally and regionally. Indeed, it is the business development, follow up and monitoring post financing that ensures keeping the business on the right path.

01/03/2015
Ben Bella Buys back its Equity Stake from Sharakah

Ben Bella Trading has officially exited from Sharakah by purchasing all shares owned by Sharakah. Ben Bella received equity financial support from Sharakah in 2011. The project was originally a fish specialty restaurant called Ocean & Earth and subsequently expanded its business to provide catering services to large corporates. They currently provide catering services to students and faculty members at German University of Technology (GUTECH) and at the new Muscat International Airport construction site. Mr. Ben Bella, partnered with Mohammed Al Habsi and agreed to rope in Sharakah as Equity Partner for setting up the business.

The restaurant in its initial startup phase planned for slow and cautious growth and later Ocean & Earth has started developing its catering unit to serve ever-growing event market in Muscat. Overall, the business is doing very well and has created around 16 jobs.

"We would like to congratulate and thank Mr. Ben Bella for his commitment and hard work in making the business a successful venture. He, in a record time, has paid the full amount and we (Sharakah) have formally exited the company, which is an indicator of the project’s success and growth. ” Says Dinkar Kishor, Deputy General Manager at Sharakah.

“When I established my project I faced difficulties to have sufficient capital and understanding other issues in the business environment, I approached Sharakah for support and I knew that I would be receiving the much needed guidance and financial support. Sharakah has helped me to run my business successfully. I currently have 16 staff. Operationally, I am now dedicating my effort to provide better service and open new branches in other locations besides GU-tech University and the airport. I appreciate and thank the entire group of Sharakah for their continuous support and encouragement to continue performing well to achieve success in my field. ” Says Ben Bella.

Sharakah`s support is not limited to financial support; it goes beyond that to ensure businesses` sustainability and growth. Indeed, our ultimate objective is to provide support to SMEs in Oman and help them grow nationally and regionally.
19/03/2015
Sharakah conducts Workshop in College of Applied Sciences, Salalah

Sharakah conducted a workshop titled “Dynamic Entrepreneurship” to students of College of Applied Sciences in Salalah last week. The workshop aimed at making students understand how to establish and manage a business in changing economic and social environment.

"We know that understanding financial statements could be quite complicated for an average person, therefore we developed this 6-hours engaging workshop which takes the participants through a series of activities to develop the cash flow statement than understand the factors that could affect any business." said Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah

During the workshop, useful case studies and examples represented to students to teach them how to develop a cash flow statement and how to calculate a loan, in addition to getting a better understanding about the factors that could affect the entire business progress.

“Starting a successful business surely requires good planning. It is important to set short and long term goals as well as budgeting. This workshop helped us to understand how to develop the cash flow statement and how to manage the business in a changing environment.”. Said a student from the college.

Sharakah is always seeking to encourage and promote entrepreneurship and since 2011 more than 500 individuals benefited from the workshops done by Sharakah. The workshop was highly appreciated by the students and the College Administration.

13/07/2015
New Project Sanctioned By Sharakah

As Sharakah always aims to develop the entrepreneurial capabilities in the local community, it has recently sanctioned a new project in the service sector "YogurBerry". This Korean franchise has over 250 outlets around the world, the list of countries include USA, China, Malaysia, UAE and many others.

The project is run and managed by two young entrepreneurs Mr. Yahya Al Shuraiqi and Mrs. Maha Al Balushi, who graduated from Sultan Qaboos University with Bachelor`s degree in the fields of Environmental and Chemical Sciences. Mr. Yahya has been working in Muscat Municipality since 2010 and passionate to introduce this franchise in the local market. On the other hand, Mrs. Abeer has been working in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, sharing Mr. Yahya the ambition to start their new project.

In year 2014, Sharakah has sanctioned 10 projects with a total investment amount of OMR 814,000. These include new projects and recurring clients who have asked for additional finance. With confident efforts, Sharakah aims to increase the number of the sanctioned projects for 2015 and aspire to be the SME supporting organization that everyone is proud to be associated with.

The project is called "YogurBerry", which is a Korean franchise that introduces low-fat yoghurt ice creams that is freshly prepared in the outlet along with the fresh fruits and toppings, fulfilling the craving customers who seek healthier options of self-indulgence with a wide range of flavors like Strawberry, Chocolate, Mango, Pineapple, Pistachio, Honey and more. In addition, smoothies and coffees are also available on the menu of "YogurBerry".

Sharakah`s focus is on SME`s sustainability, so their support goes far beyond financing. Recently they have introduced many mechanisms and tool to help them asses the progress of the business and guide the owners towards achieving success.

"We want to ensure that these projects sustain the market, maintain the jobs created, expand nationally and grow to be bankable." Said Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah
20/09/2015
Riyada Support Sharakah Forum

The Public Authority for SME Development (Riyada) signed a memorandum of cooperation with Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah) to support Sharakah Forum. Sharakah Forum is set to be an annual event organized and managed by Sharakah to discuss specific topics related to the SME sector.

This year Sharakah Forum will discuss the Role of Media in Supporting SME Development. The discussion themes will include the role of print media, broadcast media, digital media and an overview of successful SMEs in the media industry across the region.

At the signing Mr. Khalifa Al Abri, CEO, Riyada commented “We are delighted to partner with Sharakah for this important event. We see that media plays a major role in supporting SMEs development and it will be a great opportunity to learn about the best practices across the region in promoting the entrepreneurship culture through media channels.”

Abdullah Al Jufaili, GM, Sharakah also said “We are grateful to Riyada for supporting our event and we are confident that this cooperation will lead making a successful event. We have a number of regional and local speakers lined up for this event, most of which will be from the media industry. We are mostly excited about the discussion that will take place about successful examples of startup companies in the media industry. The development that the media industry has witnessed in the last decade has created niche opportunities for startups.”

12/10/2015
Entrepreneur Middle East- Media Partner for Sharakah Forum

An agreement was signed today between Entrepreneur Middle East magazine and the Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah) to support Sharakah Forum. Sharakah Forum is set to be a regional annual event organized and managed by Sharakah to discuss specific topics related to the SME sector. The forum will focus this year on the Role of Media in supporting SME development.

Addressing the press Mr. Aby Sam Thomas, Managing Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East said, “We are witnessing the positive changes that are taking place in the Sultanate of Oman with regards to entrepreneurial ecosystem development, and we believe that there is great potential for SMEs in the Omani market. Supporting this event marks one of our first initiatives in the Omani enterprise space, and we think that Sharakah’s focus on media in this year’s forum will benefit the ecosystem as a whole as media support plays a pivotal role in SME development.”

Abdullah Al Jufaili, GM, Sharakah also said “We are delighted that we got Entrepreneur Middle East on board. The whole event will take the form of a workshop style and it should be engaging. Participants should expect to have active sessions throughout. We are mostly excited about the discussion that will take place about successful examples of startup companies in the media industry. The development that the media industry has witnessed in the last decade has created niche opportunities for startups.”

For reference, Sharakah was incorporated by a Royal Decree in the Sultanate of Oman to support the development of SMEs. It offers financial and administrative support to local SMEs.
11/11/2015
NBC Supports Sharakah Forum

The National Business Center (NBC) and Sharakah inked a Memorandum of Understanding to support Sharakah Forum set to take place in Barr AL Jissah Resort on 14-15 December, 2015. The agreement was signed by Ms. Malak Al Shaibani, Director General, NBC and Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah.

Commenting on this Ms. Malak Al Shaibani said “NBC and Sharakah have a shared vision to support the development of SMEs in Oman. This is one of many other initiatives that we have partnered with them. We are delighted that Sharakah is looking at media and its impact on the SME sector. We believe that there is a lot to learn from best practices across the region and it will also be a good platform to showcase successful local SMEs in the media sector. We are particularly delighted that some of our incubates (ex. Albalad online Newspaper) will have an opportunity to tell their story at this event.”

Abdullah Al Jufaili, GM, Sharakah also said “NBC has always been a supportive partner in many initiatives and we are delighted that they are on board for this as well. Indeed, Sharakah Forum will focus on 4 media channels namely print media, broadcast media, digital media and social media. We have invited local and regional speakers to address the topic. We are also keen on showcasing few SMEs that have used media as a platform to grow their businesses”

For reference, Sharakah was incorporated by a Royal Decree in the Sultanate of Oman to support the development of SMEs. It offers financial and administrative support to local SMEs.
02/11/2015
Sharakah supports (Rev GX) with its Islamic Equity scheme.

As Sharakah always aims to develop the entrepreneurial capabilities in the local community, it has recently sanctioned a new project in the service sector "Rev GX". This project is a unique gymnasium with special classes and session for physical activity and body building as well.

The project is run and managed by three young Omani entrepreneurs Mr. Rashid Mohamed Abdullah Al Barwani, Mr. Said Hamed Saleh Al Marhoobi and Mr. Mohamed Sultan Mohamed Al Sharji. Mr. Rashid is 39 years old, holding a Master`s degree in Science in International Construction Management from Bath University in United Kingdom with more than 11 years of working experience in several organizations. While Mr. Said is 32 years old and holds an MBA from University of Bedfordshire in the UK along with a decade of experience working for Ooredoo Oman as Stream Manager/Transformation and Strategy PMO. Lastly, Mr. Mohammed is 33 years old, holding a Master degree in Business Administration from Strathclyde University in the UK along with more than 13 years of working experience in reputed companies such as Petroleum Development Oman, GBM and Telecoms Regulatory Authority.

In year 2014, Sharakah has sanctioned 10 projects with a total investment amount of OMR 814,000. These include new projects and recurring clients who have asked for additional finance. With confident efforts, Sharakah aims to increase the number of the sanctioned projects for 2015 and aspire to be the SME supporting organization that everyone is proud to be associated with.

The project is called "Rev GX", which is a group-exercise fitness center is specializing in functional fitness; which means that total body workouts are not conducted with traditional gym equipment such as treadmills, elliptical or weight machines. However, dumbbells, kettle bells and martial equipment are used for specific classes and workouts. The company provides group exercise classes, small group personal training and one to one personal training.

Sharakah`s focus is on SME`s sustainability, so their support goes far beyond financing. Recently they have introduced many mechanisms and tool to help them asses the progress of the business and guide the owners towards achieving success.

"We want to ensure that these projects sustain the market, maintain the jobs created, expand nationally and grow to be bankable." Said Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah

05/11/2015
OER and AIWA Supports Sharakah Forum

An agreement was signed yesterday between United Media Services (UMS) and the Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah) to support Sharakah Forum. Sharakah Forum is set to be a regional annual event organized and managed by Sharakah to discuss specific topics related to the SME sector. The forum will focus this year on the Role of Media in supporting SME development.

Mr. Khalfan Al Rahbi, Chief Editor, Aalam Al Iktisad Wal Aamal said, “it is quite interesting to look at SME development from the media angle. This event is one of its kind, we expect to have engaging discussions with our peers in the other media channels as well as with SMEs who would like to learn more about the role of the media industry in growing their businesses.”

Abdullah Al Jufaili, GM, Sharakah also said “Both OER and AIWA are renown magazines and we are delighted that they are onboard. Participants should expect to have active sessions throughout. We are mostly excited about the discussion that will take place about successful examples of startup companies in the media industry. The development that the media industry has witnessed in the last decade has created niche opportunities for startups.”

For reference, Sharakah was incorporated by a Royal Decree in the Sultanate of Oman to support the development of SMEs. It offers financial and administrative support to local SMEs.

20/09/2015
Browny Popcorn opens its doors in Panorama Mall

Sharakah recently signed an agreement to provide financial support to a new project in the Food and Beverage Industry "Browny Popcorn". This is the first Omani brand that offers gourmet popcorn with unique flavors like caramel, chili, Omani Halwa, Vinegar, Jalapeno, Nacho Cheese and spicy Ranch to name a few.

Browny Popcorn is going to be located in the multi-category destination for fashion, dining, and entertainment, The Panorama Mall located in the Wilyat of Boushar. The business will be run and operated by Abdullah Al Dughaishi and Issa Al Hoti. Both are college graduates and have relevant experience in managing businesses.

Abdullah Al Dughaishi is excited about his business venture, he stated “We believe that we have a very unique concept and our customers will enjoy having variety flavors of popcorn. We are planning to start with 22 flavors and probably introduce a new flavor every other month.”

Equally excited Essa Al Hooti said “We have had this concept for a while, but we were looking for the right financial partner and a good location to execute it. Sharakah has been very supportive since the early stages of our operation. We value the support services offered by Sharakah and believe that following their guidance, we will grow this concept nationally.”

Mr. Abdullah Al Dughaishi, who is 31 years old holds a Bachelor Degree of Tourism in Hospitality Management from Sultan Qaboos University and currently works in Oman Royal Flight as a Flight Dispatcher. With years of working experience in hotels around Oman, Mr. Abdullah has the confidence and capabilities of managing his business with professionalism.

Along with Abdullah, Mr. Essa Al Hooti, who is 26 years old holds a Diploma of Networking from the Higher College of Technology and also works in Oman Royal Flight as a Flight Dispatcher. Before joining Oman Royal Flight, Essa worked in Oman Arab Bank in the IT Section and also in Khimji Ramdas Shipping Company in the Finance and Marketing Department.

“It brings a lot of excitement and joy to see a project being transformed from a business plan to reality. We have been witnessing an increase in the number of Omani’s venturing into starting their own businesses. To date we have financially supported more than 76 projects. Many of them have expanded and later many have paid off the investment amount. We believe that Browny Popcorn has a great potential to grow nationally and probably regionally in the near future. Our objective remains to see these businesses sustain in the market and grow.” Said Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah.

22/11/2015
Registration is now open for Sharakah Forum with Al Roya`s media sponsorship.

Sharakah has announced yesterday opening the registration for Sharakah Forum while inking a media sponsorship agreements with Al Roya distributing and Publishing (Al Roya). The forum which is supported by Riyada as a Strategic Partner, will be held on the 14 and 15 of December and will focus on "The Role of Media in Supporting SME Development."

With the purpose of enriching the vital sectors of entrepreneurship and media, the forum is supported by several leading organizations. Sharakah aims for it to be an annual event that will address and shed light on specific topics related to SMEs. The forum is expected to attract professionals from the print media industry, broadcast media, online and social media. A special focus will also be on SMEs in the media industry.

The registration for Sharakah Forum will be available on the forum`s websitehttp://forum.sharakah.om until the 10th of December. Participation is free-of-charge and interested parties are encouraged to register as seats are limited.

Emphasizing on the importance of supporting the forum, The Honorable. Hatem Hamad Al Taie, Editor in Chief of Al Roya Distributing and Publishing said: "This is the first forum that we see focusing on the entrepreneurship opportunities in the media industry. We expect to have interactive sessions over this one-and-half day forum. Indeed, we encourage all SMEs to register and attend this forum to understand how they can best use media for the benefit of their businesses.”

“We are delighted to have AlRoya on board” said Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah. “We believe that AlRoya being a publication focused on economy will bring a much needed input in the forum content. We are certainly honored to have the Honorable Hatim Al Taie as one of the speakers and he will be sharing his experience from both perspective media and entrepreneurship.” He added

On the registration for the forum Mohamed Al Lawati, Marketing Specialist said “We encourage all interested to participate in the forum to register at once. We have limited sears and we will be accepting registration on a first come first serve basis. We are planning to run the forum in an interactive manner, so we will be having activities along the sessions that include trivia questions and survey polls. This event is mainly for SMEs who are looking for ways to best utilize media channles to grow their business.”

25/11/2015
BP Supports Sharakah Forum

BP Oman (BP) and Fund for Development of youth projects (Sharakah) inked a Memorandum of Understanding to support Sharakah Forum set to take place in Barr AL Jissah Resort on 14-15 December, 2015. The Forum will highlight the role of the media in the development of SMEs in Oman in particular.

Commenting on this Ms. Shamsa Al-Rawahi , Social Investment Director has confirmed the importance of BP supporting such kind of Initiatives in order to play bigger role in helping the development process of SMEs in Oman. "We always seek to strengthen the role of entrepreneurs in the community, and to focus on the development of SMEs within the Social Investment BP programs in the Sultanate, and we are happy to support this important event, which will highlight the role of the SMEs development.

And continuing supporting the role played by Sharakah in order to provide an interactive Forum, the Forum will focus on four basic expects printed media, audio and visual media, and new media with a focus on social media, it will also be the focus of the successful models for small enterprises in the media sector, and it will include interactive sessions with the speakers as well as a competitions to enrich engaging the audience in interactive discussions.

Abdullah Al Jufaili, GM, Sharakah also said “BP among the leading social investment companies, we have worked with together on several other initiatives during the past two years receiving the attention of the community and achieveing the desired success, and we believe that BP`s social investment strategy will have a noticeable return in the local community”.

He added (Our focus on media this year comes because of the growth that we have seen during the last years , the sector significantly has been evolved with the availability of modern technology in communication, and provided with this remarkable development of investment-opportunities for start-ups projects, and it will be one of the main aspects to focus on the Forum ).

11/11/2015
Khazzan SME Development Program Launched

The Khazzan SME Development Program sponsored by BP launched yesterday at The Chamber of Commerce & Industry office in Nizwa. The ceremony presided by HE Sheikh Dr. Khalifa Al Saadi, Governor of Ad Dakhiliya. This program is one of BP Oman Social Investment Programs. The session was attended by more than 70 SMEs from the Governorate of Ad Dakhiliya.

Sharakah and Inspired Solutions delivered a workshop where they showcased the success of last year’s program, explained how to register for this year’s program and conducted a sales development workshop. Two SME business owners from the earlier program expressed their satisfaction of the program and shared the improvement in their business.

Hilal Al Shuraiqi commented “My business was amongst the businesses that were accepted to enroll in last year’s program. I have been running my business for more than 3 years; however I have always followed an ad-hoc approach when it comes to running my operations. The Khazzan SME Development enabled me to reassess how I operate and enlightened me on many areas that my business needs improvement.”

Aliya Al Nabhani was also one of the participants in last year’s program. He said “I now realize the importance of having a clear business plan and strategy for my business. We learned a great deal about financial management and sales. The OMR 5,000 that we received from BP was fully utilized to improve the business. Our business now is fully rebranded and we are even online and on social media.”

The program was delivered by Experts from Inspired Solutions who have extensive experience in credit management and SME development in Oman. William R. Crew the Founder of Inspired Solutions said “We are impressed by the vast interest we have received from SMEs in the Governorates of Ad Dakhiliya and Ad Dhahirah to participate in this program. Last year we had 168 applicants who went through the evaluation process and we selected 22 SMEs to be trained. Our aim through this program is to improve the way these SMEs operate and upgrade the quality of their services.”

“We are delighted that BP has awarded us the responsibility of managing the implementation of this program. This is a unique program and its impact goes miles beyond the classroom training. By the end of the program all participating SMEs will get a complete business plan that includes a market research for their particular product or service. The will also develop their cash flow projection for the coming years, learn about the different channels they can use to market their products or services and have better understanding of the areas that needs improvement in their business. In addition 20 SMEs will receive a non-refundable grant from BP that will be utilized to grow the business.” Said Abdullah Al jufaili, Genearl Manager, Sharakah
11/11/2015
Khazzan Project for SME Development Session in Ibri

The second engagement session of the Khazzan Project for SME Development sponsored by BP was held yesterday at Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry office in Ibri under the patronage of HE Sheikh Dhiyab Al-Rubaie, Wali of Ibri. The session was attended by more than 50 SMEs from the Governorate of Ad Dhahirah.

The session was delivered by Sharakah and Inspired Solutions in which they have presented examples of SMEs that participated in the previous year program, explained how to register for this year’s program and conducted a sales development workshop.

Amongst the SMEs that participated last year were Ahmed Al Maamari and Thuwaiba Al Ismaili, they were excited about the knowledge they have gained in the program. Ahmed Maamari said “I was delighted to have been selected to be part of this program. The Khazzan SME Development acted as a check point to assess how I operate my business. Indeed, I have made some drastic changes in my operations and I now understand the importance of business planning.”

Thuwaiba Al Ismaili also commented “We learned a great deal about financial management and sales. The Knowledge we have gained from the program will raise the level of our projects to the growth stage.”

William R. Crew the Founder of Inspired Solutions, the company responsible to execute the program commented “There is a great interest in the Governorate of Ad Dhahirah from SMEs to grow their businesses and we are expecting to have more applications this year from Ibri.”
30/04/2014
`Love at First Bite` the Best Trademark in the Gulf

Love at First Bite was announced the “Best Trademark in the Gulf” at the recent Gulf Small and Medium Enterprises Forum held in Kuwait. The event aims at creating more awareness about the importance of local brand and encouraging those brands to expand regionally.

The achievement of Love at First Bite is a great record to the stunning works accomplished by the restaurant in the two years of its operation. Khalid Al Suwaid, The Founder and Owner of Love at First Bite represented Oman in the event where remarkable gulf entrepreneurs gathered to share their own stories, struggles and expertise. “It was a networking opportunity with so many inspiring businesses and business owners. I was so honored to represent my country and it is indeed heartening to have won the best trademarks in the Gulf. This award opens new horizons I believe in terms of considering moving beyond Oman`s Borders especially since Love at First Bite is already involved in Restaurant Consultancy for restaurants in the Gulf.” Said Khalid

This award follows two previous awards which Love at First Bite has won in December 2013 which are The Best Business Concept Award and the People`s Choice Award at the Travelex Oman Tourism Ambassador Awards 2013. “It is a pleasure to be the restaurant of choice for so many and there are plenty more surprises to come!” commented Khalid

The restaurant located in Shatti Qurum acquired reputation and became a favorite place for many due to its uniqueness in terms of the creativeness of its dishes combined with a distinctive atmosphere where guests are invited to choose to dine at any of the three settings at the restaurant. Khalid Al Suwaid will participate as well in the G20 Summit with Entrepreneurs from the Gulf in Sydney, Australia during July 2014 to share experiences and learn from others.

In the span of 2 years, Love at First Bite has won the hearts of so many Muscat-eers with a Fusion menu that focuses on combining the freshest ingredients with mouth-watering flavor twists. The number of employees - expatriates and Omanis- doubled during the first two years and the restaurant is on the way to opening other branches in Muscat and expands regionally.

20/04/2014
`Sahtain` New Project Supported by Sharakah
An agreement was signed recently between Sharakah and E.A.R LLC to provide financial support to a new healthy cuisine café called “Sahtain”. The café will be located in Muscat at the Ice Skating Ring in Fun Zone Mall, Al Qurum.

The project is run and managed by Eman Akbar Rafay, a highly ambitious young Omani who is keen on promoting eating healthy targeted at busy public and private sector employees who prefer to have a healthy meal and quality options delivered at their doorstep every day.

The cafe offers a variety of choices for its customers where they will be served by healthy, nutritious and fresh Food. "Sahtain will focus more on catering services, seeking to deliver healthy meals to consumer’s offices. The plan is to start as an office lunch delivery business for corporates, by taking trolleys of freshly prepared quick service products for a period of one and half hours. The menu shall comprise of Sandwiches, Baguettes, Wraps, Salads, Bakery items, Soups, Hot drinks, Fruit Salads, Hot meal Pasta and Rice" said Eman Akbar, Founder and Owner.

To clarify its objective, Sahtain understands the value of time in today’s busy world and that is why the company believes in going the extra mile to serve customers better. It will target delivery to corporations who do not have canteens on site. Later, the services will also cater for homes and upon request from any location within the Governorate of Muscat.

Ms. Zuwaina Al Badaa’i, Investment Analysis Manager of Sharakah commented "Sahtain is a recent project that has received support from Sharakah. Sharakah is keen on developing the SME market by providing financial as well as administrative support. We ensure the sustainability of these businesses by monitoring their performance and providing continuous guidance. We see that there is an upward trend towards entrepreneurship in Oman. Our objective is for these businesses to be sustainable."

Sharakah aims to support more than 14 projects in 2014 with a targeted investment of RO 720,000. New and existing businesses are encouraged to learn more about Sharakah`s services through the website. Indeed, Sharakah’s ultimate objective is to provide support to SMEs in Oman and help them grow nationally and regionally.
26/03/2014
Sharakah Annual General Meeting 2014
Sharakah held its Annual General Meeting for the financial year ended 31 December, 2013 on 26th March, 2014 presided by Mr. Hani bin Mohamed Al Zubair, Chairman of the Board of Directors, with the attendance of the Board of Directors, Shareholders and officials from the concerned authorities.

Mr. Hani commenced the meeting by welcoming the attendees and presenting Sharakah`s achievements during the year 2013. He Mentioned that Sharakah participated actively in the SME Symposium that was held at Seih Al Shamikhat, Willayat Bahla.

“We believe in the importance of having strong ties with other organizations supporting SMEs. Thus in 2013, we renewed the agreement with Grant Thornton Abu Timam. The agreement aims at assisting entrepreneurs in developing their business plan, market study and perform financial audit. In addition, we have signed agreements with the National Business Centre, Zubair Small Enterprises Center and Jusoor. All with a common objective of providing more services to budding and aspiring entrepreneurs.”

Maintaining a clear and open dialogue with community members at large and beneficiaries at a more specific level is very important. Sharakah have adopted a strategy to diversify its communications channels to spread more awareness about Sharakah and encourage entrepreneurship amongst nationals. 2013 witnessed a dramatic growth of the active followers to Sharakah`s social media channels. Aside from online engagement, Sharakah delivered 9 Dynamic Entrepreneurship Workshop to more than 300 participants.

Commenting on the financial performance he added: “In 2013, we have sanctioned 9 projects at a value of RO 427,500. Despite challenges in an ever changing socio-economic environment, Sharakah`s clients performed very well. Ice Cream Mama, a local company has expanded to 4 branches during the year and in the process to develop its own Franchise Brand. Wadi Samail Equipment has made a 73% increase in sales from the previous year. Jadawil Muscat expanded their market reach by opening two new outlets of Paparoti in Sohar and Salalah. And Five Oceans is exporting 80% of its goods to markets in Europe and USA. Indeed, we live by our word to help these businesses expand nationally, regionally and have access to international markets.”

Sharakah values the changes that have happened to the SME market lately and strive to accommodate the need of local SMEs. As a step towards redeveloping the next 5-years strategy, Sharakah launched an online survey backed with relevant social media channels to get a better understanding of what SMEs really want of Sharakah to be. The time is now for Sharakah to take the next leap. "We are excited about how the SME ecosystem has developed and we look forward to play pivotal role in shaping the future of SMEs in Oman." Said Hani

The AGM as well discussed and approved the Audited Financial Statements for the year 2013 and the appointment of Statutory Auditor for the financial year 2014.

At its meeting, the board of directors re-elected Mr. Hani Mohammed Al Zubair as Chairman of the board and Mr. Said Salim Al Sahib as Vice Chairman for the period 2014 - 2016. The other board members are:

Mr. Pankaj Khimji – Director
Mr. Rashad Jaffar Al Shaikh – Director
Mr. Qais Mohammed Al Khonji – Director
Mr. Hani Habib Abdul Nabi Macki – Director
Mr. Moosa Masood Al Jadidi – Director

Mr. Hani concluded by emphasizing the importance of the role His Majesty the Sultan plays in supporting Small and Medium Enterprises. He praised the decisions that emerged from SME Symposium held at Seih Al Shamikat and confirmed that this will pave the way for more locals to consider establishing their own enterprises. Further, this will create a favorable environment for SME`s. Mr. Hani greatly appreciated the support that SME`s in general and Sharakah in particular received from His Majesty. He also thanked the shareholders for the support they have shown.

12/03/2014
Assessment of the Entrepreneurial Capabilities for Locals

From the time when the SME Symposium that was held in Seih Al Shamikhat in the Willayat of Bahla, number of initiatives emerged from the private and public sector to promote SMEs in Oman. The underlying objective is to leverage on the skills and capabilities of Omanis and help create an economy that is less dependent on Oil and Gas sector.

Supporting Entrepreneurship and SMEs is on the agenda of many organizations now. A greater emphasis is laid on embedding entrepreneurship at schools and academic institutions so that the students at schools are ready, willing and made capable of establishing their own enterprises in the future.

A recent collaboration between Sharakah and Lighthouse might provide the starting point for assessing the current status of the readiness of young Omanis to successfully manage their own enterprises tomorrow. The results of the collaboration are mainly twofold. First to develop a tool that will assess the entrepreneurial capability of an individual. Second is to establish and identify the gap between the capabilities of students with respect to the required skills and traits to become successful entrepreneurs.

The research was focused on the following objectives:

1. Assessment of entrepreneurial DNA of Omani Entrepreneurs and identifying reasons for their success in terms of individual skills and competencies

2. Develop a tool that can assess the capabilities of potential entrepreneur and identify success rate based on entrepreneurial DNA of Oman.

Says Ajay Singh CEO of Lighthouse

During the first phase of the study Lighthouse consultants interviewed 103 Omani entrepreneurs and also carried out their psychometric profiling using their proprietary tool – TLH Profiler. TLH profiler is capable of defining behavioral characteristics that leads to good performance using clusters of responses made by the participants.

“It took us more than 1 year to conclude phase one of the research. There were many challenges faced by our team during data collection. No two businesses are same. The skills required to be successful in a small business is radically different than managing a large corporation. Skills required to manage a traditional family owned business is completely different than that of a first generation entrepreneur” said Mr. Abdullah Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah.

In order to address this issue Lighthouse employed its proprietary enterprise classification tool that can classify business into different categories using point ranking method.

“It is to be understood that SME’s vary in size, complexity and the nature of their business and each category of SME will have its own set of needs that needs to be addressed and skills required to be successful. A one size fit all approach may not be completely successful in understanding them and nurturing them. Another reason to classify SME’s into specific categories is that it will help the respective agencies like SME funds, banks, SME incubators etc. to provide a concerted and tailor made effort to suit the needs of a particular category. By classifying them into various clusters, concerned authorities in the government will be able to focus on each cluster and support it with specific solutions aimed to nurture and strengthen them. This will also help SME’s in those respective sectors to develop a roadmap for success and achieve their milestones” said Mr. Ajay Singh CEO of Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse classified businesses into following categories based on point ranks:

Total Point Range

Enterprise class

Enterprise type

Enterprise type

Number of companies surveyed

51 – 175

LEC 1 – LEC 5

Micro business, Sole proprietors, Sole trader, Professionals, Self-employed individuals

Micro organization

14

176 – 250

LEC 6 – LEC 8

SME – 1

Very small

30

251 – 325

LEC 9 – 11

SME – 2

Small

13

326 – 400

LEC 12 – 14

SME – 3

Small – Medium

16

401 - 475

LEC 15 – 17

SME – 4

Medium

11

476 - 550

LEC 18 – 20

SME – 5

Medium - Large

19

551 and beyond

Large companies

 

“Once the businesses were classified then data collection became more focused and assessment of skills that made entrepreneurs successful also became very relevant to their categories. Further analysis of these skills was carried out to arrive at top skills based on cluster of behavior identified.” Said Mr. Ajay Singh CEO Lighthouse.

The common skills required to be successful conducting business in Oman across all categories of businesses are:

  • Ability to take risk and spot opportunities
  • Timely decision making
  • To be resilient to vagaries of business
  • Aggressive approach towards performance
  • Heroic customer service
  • Ability to build and lead teams
  • Cost consciousness
  • Keen eye on quality delivery
  • To be patient with results

“These common traits are easily assessable in any individual who is running a business or wants to start a business, through our proprietary tools. These tools are online and the tests can be taken in Arabic and in English and reports can be downloaded instantly.” Said Mr. Ajay Singh

The report is helpful in ascertaining the gaps and the steps that needs to be taken by the individual to equip themselves to be successful entrepreneurs.

“The tool is not only helpful for anybody who is doing a business or want to start a business. It is equally helpful for funds engaged in providing financial assistance to SMEs, incubators can tailor-make their courses to suit the need of the SMEs, universities and colleges to align their courses to the requirement and promote entrepreneurship amongst students and above all the Government to align their policies to develop entrepreneurs.” Said Abdullah

He also mentioned that Sharakah and Lighthouse will now increase the sample size of the entrepreneurs to 500 in next phase of the research. They will profile entrepreneurs in Sohar, Nizwa, Salalah and Sur to further strengthen the data and align it with the assessment tool. The phase two of the study will be concluded in next 6 months and the report will be shared with all the key players in the ecosystem.

Lighthouse has also launched a dedicated website (www.smeadvise.com) to promote and impart advice to SMEs. The website provides information on key players in SME ecosystem, free usage of Lighthouse Enterprise Classification tool and unique business ideas. Lighthouse & Sharakah invite businessmen who are willing to be profiled during the next phase to register themselves online. They will be provided with a complimentary enterprise classification summary and behavioral report.

03/03/2014
Italian Barista Café is now open in Al Mawalih Supported by Sharakah

Italian Barista Café was launched recently under the auspicious of Mr. Khalifa bin Saeed Al Abri, Acting CEO of the Public Authority for SME Development. Managed and owned by Ismail Al Toobi, the café is one of the projects that have received support from Sharakah.

The café located in Al Mawalih, Al Mouj street, Ground floor of Al Thabit building. It offers a variety of choices for its customers in an enchanting atmosphere. Commenting on this occasion, Mr. Khalifa bin Saeed Al Abri said "The government places a great emphasis in developing the SME sector. Recently many initiatives were introduced by both the public and private sector. Indeed, SMEs play an important role in job creation and diversification."

"Italian Barista Café has a seating facility of over thirty people to have a combination of Italian and American cuisine in addition to enjoying the finest types of Italian coffee that have been carefully selected to suit all tastes. It has inside and outside seating. We also offer take away and home delivery facilities. The menu has more than fifty food items that we invite our guests to try." said Ismail Al Toobi, Founder and Owner.

Present at the launch ceremony Ms. Umaima Al Ghadani commented "Italian Barista Café is amongst the recent projects that have received support from Sharakah. Sharakah is keen on developing the SME market by providing financial as well as administrative support. We ensure the sustainability of these businesses by monitoring their performance and providing continuous guidance. We see that there is an upward trend towards entrepreneurship in Oman. Our objective is for these businesses to be sustainable."

Sharakah aims to support more than 12 projects in 2014 with a targeted investment of Rials 720,000. New and existing businesses are welcomed to learn more about Sharakah`s services through the website. Indeed, Sharakah’s ultimate objective is to provide support to SMEs in Oman and help them grow nationally and regionally.

12/01/2014
Hamadn Al Ruqiashi of Abu Luwaidha Transportation Exists Sharakah`s Lending Program

Hamdan Al Ruqaishi of Abu Luwaidha Transportation has recently exited the funding program of Sharakah by honoring the outstanding financial support provided. Hamdan is a 44 years old retired military services Omani who has approached Sharakah in 2009 to get financial support for purchasing a 50 Ton truck. He won a contract in 2009 to provide logistics services to a major supplier to Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).

"Leaving a job with steady income and taking the leap to start my own business was one of the most important decisions in my life. It was not an easy step and I would not invite anyone to think that it is. When I was introduced to Sharakah and got a better understanding of their services, I felt at ease that I would be receiving the much needed guidance and financial support. Sharakah has helped me to run my business and I was able to honor the loan amount in three years, two years less than the loan tenure." Says Hamdan Al Ruqaishi.

Sharakah`s support is not limited to financial support, it goes beyond that to ensure that businesses sustain and grow. "We welcome businesses from most sectors. To avail financial support from Sharakah, we request the business owner to submit a business plan that includes a brief about the business, the products or services offered, a review of the market, and financials amongst other things. For existing businesses we would like to get a better understanding of their financial performance so we request them to submit their audited financials."

Sharakah aims to support more than 12 projects in 2014 with a targeted investment of Rials 720,000. New and existing businesses are welcomed to learned more about Sharakah`s services through their website. Indeed, their ultimate objective is to provide support to SMEs in Oman and help them grow nationally and regionally.

13/11/2013
Sharakah Signs MoU with Zubair Corporation

The Zubair Small Enterprises Centre (Zubair-SEC) and Sharakah inked a memorandum of understanding to compliment their efforts of serving local SMEs. The MOU between Zubair-SEC and Sharakahwas signed yesterday at Zubair Corporation headquarters in the presence of Mr. Hani Al Zubair, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sharakah and senior officials from both organizations. The MoUlays out plans for various facets of cooperation focused on the developments of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Zubair-SEC and Sharakah will work together to provide Omani Entrepreneurs with access to information about their services and available opportunities through their websites. The partnership will extend to promotional activities such ascollaborating on joint awareness campaigns at local colleges and universities and relevant seminars.

Commenting at the event Mr. Hani Obied, Senior Advisor & Acting CEO of Zubair-SEC said; “The cooperation between Sharakah and Zubair-SEC is an important milestone in the effort to attract more effective Businesses owned by Omanis. We will provide business advisory services to early stages and growing organization to help them grow in the market.”

Dinkar Kishor, Deputy General Manager of Sharakah said: “There are already a number of private and public sector initiatives in the community to promote entrepreneurship and support SME`s. our aim from this MoU is to compliment the efforts to achieve the same objectives.”

“The Zubair Small Enterprises Centre also provides services to all Omani entrepreneurs and small business owners, and gives them access to meet and consult business advisors at the center.We pursued an agreement with Sharakah as they are well known as one of the most effective organizations for developing the SMEs in the Sultanate.” Hani added. For the long term plan, both parties will agree on a set target number of entrepreneurs to be funded who pass the requirements ofboth parties.

07/10/2013
Sharakah Participates in the 4th Annual Middle East SME Forum

Over the past few years, countries in Middle East have been aiming to build a stable and sustainable economy through the diversification and expansion of its enterprise base across a range of different sectors, thus improving the competitiveness of the region`s private sector.

Sharakah recently participated in the 4thAnnual Middle East SME Forum which was held in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The participation comes from Sharakah’s interest to extend its experience and get acquainted with other initiatives in the region.

The forum brought togetherSME support organizations, entrepreneurs,seniorbanking personnel and government officials to discuss and understand vital aspects of SME initiatives.

Several interactive panel discussionswere held duringthe conference. Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah, talked about a crucial topic related to SME developmentthat is “Are SME`s really a vehicle for job creation?” The presentation highlighted statics about SME job creation related to the sustainability of the SME. It also touched on the means for SMEs to be favorable employers.

Success stories and best practices in the region were narrated through presentations from celebrated entrepreneurs in the region. In Oman, there are a number of initiatives that aim to support SMEs and entrepreneurs at different stages. These initiatives offerfinancial and administrative support to sustain the business and help to build strongplatformfor SMEs to grow.

30/09/2013
Workshop delivered by Sharakah to Sickle Cell Patients in Association with Oman Hereditary Blood Disorder Association

Oman Hereditary Blood Disorder Association in cooperation with Sharakah, organized a 1-day workshop titled "Dynamic Entrepreneurship" to some members of the Association. The workshop aimed at inspiring the participants to think positively about life and explore opportunities in the business environment.

The participants were highly engaged in the workshop. The case study based exercises discussed income, expenses, profit, cash flow management and risks associated with any business.The participants were asked to make their own cash flow analysis by using given templates, developing company brand, calculating required investment to grow he business and else.

Commenting on the workshop,one of the participants said:“The exercises helped us understand key aspects of managing a business successfully. We learned more about cash flows, evaluating business scenarios and mitigating risks. It was a highly effective skill enhancement workshop. We learned a great deal about vital principles relating to entrepreneurship and small business management.”

"We thank Sharakah for delivering this professional and quite engaging workshop to our members. Indeed, it was delightful seeing the engagement level very high amongst participants. We hope to repeat this again for other member of the association." Said Fatma Al Yaqoubi, Association Member.

29/08/2013
Sharakah Sanctions New Projects

Sharakah has recently sanctioned a loan to start a new restaurant in WillayatNizwa called Makulati which translates "My Meals". Makulatiwill be serving Arabic and Zanzibari Cuisine along with Indian Spicy cuisine at affordable prices

The project is run and managed by Mr. Hafidh Al Naamani,a 29 years old ambitious young Omani who enjoys learning about different cultures and hosting tourists has chosen the restaurant business because of his interest in promoting local tourism.

During 2013, Sharakah has sanctioned 6 projects with a total investment amount of OMR 369,500. These include new projects and recurring clients who have asked for additional finance. The list includes Columbiono Coffee in the Governorate of Dhofar, Ice Cream Mama, Al Barza Coffee shop and Grills Restaurant in Governorate of Muscat, as well Papparoti which has started successfully in Muscat and is expanding to Governorate of Al Batinah North and Governorate of Dhofar.

These projects have and will create 87 employment opportunities in the community. Commenting on this at the signing ceremony Ms. Umaima Al Ghadani, Investment Analyst said "Sharakah’s role goes beyond financing. To date, Sharakah has provided support to more than fifty projects. The success of every small business, creates jobs, develops skills, attracts talent and drives the nation’s development and international competitiveness”.

Mr.Hafidh Al Naamani, the owner of “Maakulati” thanked Sharakah’s Management for the financial support and the guidance it offered. He said the proposed restaurant will be located in Hay Al Turath, on the road towards Birkat Al Mawz in Nizwa. The project will benefit the local community by way of jobs as well as enhancing the dining out experience. He added "I am targeting locals who live around the area as well as tourists who take the road to Jabal Al Akhdhar and Jabal Shams. I am inviting them to stop and taste delicious and affordable variety of meals."

Sharakah`s focus is on SME`s sustainability, so their support does not stop at financing. Recently they have introduced many mechanisms and tool to help them asses the progress of the business and guide the owners towards achieving success.

"We want to ensure that these projects sustain the market, maintain the jobs created, expand nationally and grow to be bankable." Said Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah.

27/06/2013
Sharakah Continues the Series of Entrepreneurial Skills Development Workshop with Jusoor

Sharakah delivered the second workshop in a series of workshops aimed at empowering locals with entrepreneurial skills in association with Jusoor. The workshop titled "Dynamic Entrepreneurship" focus on introducing the concept of entrepreneurship, explaining the basis of establishing a business, clarifying the definitions SME`s and entrepreneurs, introducing and explaining how to develop cashflow statement for a business and understanding how to manage a business in an ever changing environment.

The workshop was delivered to a group of (25) Omanis, who have all praised and appreciated the knowledge and information they have received. Commenting on this Ahmed Ibrahim Al Ajmi, one of the participants said “I learnt that managing a business is not an easy task, and every transaction counts in a business. There are so many internal as well as external factors that keep on changing and they in turn affect the business performance”

Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah and the workshop presenter concludes saying; “in response to the decision of the SME Symposium held at Seih Al Shamikhat,we aim at spreading more awareness about entrepreneurship. Our objective is to ensure that starting a business requires proper planning. Our ultimate objective at Sharakah is to ensure that we are creating sustainable SME`s which will create jobs and contribute to the social and economic development of Oman."

Fahad Al Adi, Executive Manager of Jusoor Said: “Jusoor’s partnership with Sharakah will surely add great value to the young entrepreneurs in North Al Batinah, and through the Enrichment Program the three founding companies of Jusoor (Orpic, SoharAluminium& Vale) aim to play an active role in nurturing the entrepreneurial minds in the governorate”.

Implementing this social educational project for the entrepreneurs and college studentswillenhancetheir abilities and knowledge of understanding the market. The learning outcomes of this workshop were met and participants valued it and confirmed that made them more confident and aware of doing business successfully.

04/06/2013
Workshop on the dynamics of entrepreneurship held by Sharakah at GUtech

MUSCAT To encourageBachelor of Science students to think as entrepreneurs and to persue theirown business ideas, the Department of SustainableTourism and Regional Development of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has launched a series of lectures for students.

"Think as an entrepreneur is our goal. We would like to encourage and promote entrepreneurship and self-employment as an option after graduation," said Professor Dr. Heba Aziz, Head of the Department of Sustainable Tourism and Regional Development.

Last Sunday Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah conducted a one-day workshop titled"Dynamic Entrepreneurship"."Since 2011we have been conducting such workshops to encourage young Omanis to start their own businesses," said Abdullah, who himself started thinking as an entrepreneur from an early age onwards. "After school I used to draw cartoon characters. My classmates saw that and wanted to have the same pictures,” remembers Abdullah who soonstarted selling his drawings to his friends and as well other things such as sandwiches, home-made cookies and renting bicycle-rides in his neighbourhood. Later on, beside his studies in the United States, Abdullahstarted working as a freelancer in different sectors. “That experience taught me to think out of the box and to feel responsible for my own work," he said.

During the GUtech workshop Abdullah shared his rich experience as an entrepreneur. He explained how to set-up a business, how to develop a cash flow statement and how to calculate a loan, in addition to getting a better understanding about the positive and negative factors that could affect the entire business progress. "The availability of cash flow is important for the business as well as having clear goals set from the beginning," stressed Abdullah.

Lady Omani, one of the participants said "we appreciate Sharakah`s efforts in promoting entrepreneurship and educating students on how to go about starting a business. Indeed, this was a valuable workshop where we learned more how to setup a business, the importance of planning, projecting the cash flow and managing change in a business environment."

30/03/2013
Sharakah delivered a learning Session in cooperation with Jusoor

On December 2012, Sharakah and Jusoor signed a Memorandum of Understanding aiming at promoting leadership amongst Omanisin North Al Batinah Governorate and to contribute towards developing a positive impact in the targeted communities. This actually comes from the need of boosting the young Omanis awareness of leadership by both parties and so creates a generation that is aware of the massive opportunities in the market to be used to add value to the Omani economy.

Mr. Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah, delivered an educational workshop within the Enrichment Program of Jusoortitled “Dynamic Entrepreneurship”aims at making the participants understand how to establish and manage a business in changing economic and social environment. Around 30 participants attended the workshop which lasts for 7 hours with supportive case studies and interesting ice break games.

"Aside from promoting entrepreneurship, we believe that it is important for business owners to understand how to manage cash flowtaking into consideration the internal and external factors of the business" commenting Mr. Al Jufaili. Some participants have a lack of financial experience and so the exercises helped them understand key aspects such as planning cash flows, evaluating business scenarios, team building, etc.

"Jusoor’s partnership with Sharakah opens a wide door of opportunities for young entrepreneurs in North Al Batiah, be it through the knowledge that they gain from the valuable workshops delivered by Sharakah or through the partnership prospectus with Sharakah and benefiting from their services and expertis" said Fahad Al Adi, Executive Manager of Jusoor. And he added:"Jusoorand its three founding companies (Orpic, SoharAluminium and Vale) areproud to be part of such valuable knowledge sharing and networking opportunities that will surely add value to the entrepreneurial picture in North Al Batinah."

Abdulsalam Al Sadi, one of the participants in the workshops shared his feedback on the workshop: "The workshop focused on very crucial aspects that will help me as an entrepreneur to better manage my business. Cash flow statements and financial aspects are crucial to any business, and I surely gained a lot of knowledge from this workshop".

The workshop was highly appreciated by Jusoor and the participants as it was interesting and knowledge filled.

Jusoor Enrichment Program is one of Jusoor’s initiatives that are aimed at cascading knowledge among the Omani youth in North Al Batinah in the entrepreneurial field as well as career guidance and work ethics with the objective to contribute to the graduates’ readiness for joining the labor market.

25/03/2013
Sharakah Annual General Meeting

Sharakah held its Annual General Meeting for the financial year ended 31 December, 2012 on 25th March 2013 at Park Inn Hotel, presided by Mr. Hani bin Mohamed AlZubair, Chairman of the Board of Directors, with the attendance of the Board of Directors, Shareholders and officials from the concerned authorities.

The AGM discussed and approved the Audited Financial Statements for the year 2012 and the appointment of Statutory Auditor for the financial year 2013.

Mr. Hani explained that Sharakah had a remarkable year in 2012. It managed to achievemost of its targets and overall the performance was very positive. 2012 was the first year where Sharakah applied the new strategy and it successfully launched its new Brand which carries Three Key Messages;

Energize: Sharakah engages with business owners to encourage them and showcase their achievements. Grow:By monitoring and guiding the business owners, Sharakah ensures their sustainability and continuous growth. Innovation: Reviewing how they operate and always suggesting area for improvements, Sharakah’s clients strive to be the best in their industries.

Amongst a list of achievements, Sharakah became ISO 9001:2008 certified in 2012. The certification recognizes that Sharakah has standardized processes and procedures that adhere to International Quality Systems Standards

.

Hani Al Zubair stated that; "Sharakahhave adopted a strategy to diversify communicationchannels to spread more awareness about Sharakah and encourage entrepreneurship amongst nationals. In 2012, Sharakahhave attended to more than 460 calls and enquiries, an increase of 24% from the previous year. Moreover, is now active on renowned social media channels includingFacebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and You Tube.On the community development side, Sharakah delivered many presentations at different colleges and schools as well as we conducted a skills development workshop titled "Dynamic Entrepreneurship" to about 280 startups and college students."

Commenting on the financial performance he added; "During the year 2012, Sharakah provided financial support to 10 projects with investment amount ofRO 529.000, which have created 164 new job opportunities in the local market.Since 2008 to the present day, Sharakahprovided support to 29 projects;these projects represent various sectors including information technology, engineering, as well as industry and services sector and restaurants."

Mr. Hani concluded by emphasizing the importance of the role His Majesty the Sultan plays in supporting Small and Medium Enterprises. He praised the decisions that emerged from SME Symposium held at Seih Al Samikat and confirmed that this will pave the way for more locals to consider establishing their own enterprises. Further, this will create a favorable environment for SME`s.

Mr. Hani greatly appreciated the support that SME`s in general and Sharakah in particular received from His Majesty. He also thanked the shareholders for the support they have shown.

06/02/2013
National Business Centerand Sharakah Tie-up to Support SMEs

Fund for Development of Youth Projects, SAOC (Sharakah), premier organization involved in development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME`s) has signed an agreement with Public Establishment for Industrial Estate (PEIE), a business incubator seeks to develop small and medium-sized enterprises related to the field of Information Technology through its embrace of business owners and provide office space alignment, support and guidance for the growth of these institutions.The agreement aims at developing the Small and Medium Enterprises located in National Business Centre by providing a workshop for the owners.

The signing parties agreed to coordinate for one year to deliver learning sessions in the forms of workshops for the Business Owners in the National Business Centre. Sharakah will deliver a workshop which aims at making the participants understand how to establish and manage a business in changing economic and social environment, discussing issues related to the SMEs and guiding them to overcome the hurdles face them.

Every last Wednesday in the end of each month will be the time for Sharakah to meet the SME owners in around two hours to learn from the workshops delivered by Mr. Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah.

It is noteworthy to mention that the National Business Center (NBC) was launched by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estate in KOM and began operations in the year 2013. It is aimed to facilitate and support the growth of business ideas which are investable and convert them into successful projects on the ground; also it seeks to build the skills of business owners through training and guidanceto manage their institutions efficiently and professionally. In addition to that, providing facilities through the creation of office space, and provide administrative and financial support and advisory services, which are basics of the success of new projects.

31/12/2012
Oman Daily Observer - Questions and Answers

What have been the key achievements of Sharakah during 2011 and 2012 ?

In 2011, 7 projects were sanctioned with the amount invested of Rial Omani 491,679. These projects have created 26 additional job opportunities in the market. In 2012 Sharakah supported 10 additional projects with an investment amount exceeding Rial 520,000.

Further, we are now an ISO certified organization applying best practices to ensure that we serve the entrepreneurs in an efficient manner. Part of our contribution to capacity building and skills development, we have conducted 8 workshops titled "Dynamic Entrepreneurship" to more than 200 participants most of which are college students. The objective of the workshop is to develop a deeper understanding of cash flows statements and enlightening the participants of different factors that could affect business performance.

In its effort to equip aspiring entrepreneurs, Sharakah and Grant Thornton Abu Timam inked a deal on March 2012 to support the development of Small and Medium Enterprises in Oman, where we work closely to help entrepreneurs who are seeking to establish or grow their businesses to learn how to develop viable business plans.

Likewise, Sharakah signed an agreement with Jusoor, a corporate social responsibility entity targeted at developing the community in North Al Batinah Governorate.The objective is promoting leadership amongst Omanis in North Al Batinah Governorate and to contribute towards developing a positive impact in the targeted communities.

What are the key goals of Sharakah ?

Sharakah’s main objectives are to:
Support Oman’s vision 2020 to diversify the economy
Encourage the creation of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s)
Develop the entrepreneurial capacity of Omanis
Assist in creating sustainable SME’s
Create job opportunities for locals

Please give a brief overview of some Omani SMEs started recently with your support ?

Over the course of 13 years, Sharakah supported more than 50 businesses in different sectors and from different governorates in the Sultanate. Some of these businesses include Love at First Bite multi cuisine lounge in the Wilayat of Bowsher, Salim Al Mawaly Trading a Bricks Factory in The Willayat of Suwaiq, WadiSamailEquipments renting construction equipment in the Willayat of Samail, Mazoon Environmental & Technical Services in the Willayat of AsSeeb and many others.

What are your future plans for 2013 and beyond? What is your strategic plan for micro and SMEs ?

It is worth stating that Sharakah`s concentration is on Small to Medium size enterprises not Microbusiness. While the definition is debatable, we consider Micro business those which require an investment amount less than Rials 10,000 apart from other parameters.

We have an ambitions 5-Years strategy that looks at our internal operations as well as what we deliver to the SME`s. Indeed, we are planning to support more businesses not only financially but also through guidance, mentoring and consultation.

For instance, we are developing a Business Performance Monitoring Tool that will enable us to monitor the progress of businesses that we have supported and ensure that they are on the right track. This rigorous approach insures that we evaluate the business from all aspects including operations, finance, marketing, branding to name a few.

Along similar lines, we have signed an agreement with LightHouse Consultant to develop a tool that will help us asses the entrepreneurial capacity of applicants and would ensure that we bench mark aspiring entrepreneurs against clear criteria.

We will continue to deliver workshops on voluntary basis to students on how to manage business and educate them of the responsibilities that it brings.

Lately we have been active on various social channels (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter), we plan to engage more with youngsters and help spread more awareness about entrepreneurship and our services.

Further, we are working on introducing a scheme that is Sharia compliant to serve the needs of entrepreneurs who are seeking sharia complaint financial support. In fact our equity scheme "in principle" follows the guidelines of Islamic finance.

Do you think bureaucratic red tape and others hurdles are challenges in start-up ventures ?

Lets say they are part of other challenges that SME`s face. SMEs generally face common challenges. Some are related to investment environment and incentives, and other are related to managerial capacity of the Owners themselves.

I classify the challenges into three general categories

Cultural Challenges

These are a set of challenges related to factors in the community that have an effect on nurturing entrepreneurship.

Challenges related to the Business Environment

These challenges are related to the policies and regulations that govern the operation of business entities in the Sultanate as well as the support provided by large private and public sector organizations.

Challenges Related to the Entrepreneurial Capacity of Locals

The last set of challenges looks at whether locals have the entrepreneurial skills and capabilities. Financial institutions claim that the quality of business plans coupled with the skills of the business owners that represent them ispoor.

30/12/2012
Sharakah conducts `Dynamic Entrepreneurship` workshop to businesswomen in Omran`s Income Generating Project `Zaree`

Intending to educate entrepreneurs and give them an overall idea of developing and managing business cash flow, Mr. Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah, delivered a workshop entitled `Dynamic Entrepreneurship` to a number of businesswomen in Khasab. The attendees included five women from Omran’s income generating program `Zaree`. The one day interactive workshop used games and case studies to further develop a deeper understanding and planning of cash flows and evaluating real life scenarios that may affect any business.

"It is one thing starting a business and it is another managing it through turbulence and a changing environment. Aside from promoting entrepreneurship, we believe that it is important for business owners to understand how to manage cash flow," commented Abdullah Al Jufaili

Abdul Wahid Al Farsi, VP External Affairs at Omran said, "Based on a needs assessment, we realized that while the women of Zaree had the skills required to ensure the program is a success, we also realized that they lacked the financial experience. As a result, we identified Sharakah to conduct a workshop that equipped the women with the know-how on financial management fundamentals, budgeting and book keeping. They are now able to make important decisions that will enhance their business and encourage its organic growth in the right direction."

Iman Al Salti, Zaree Team Leader commented, "Before this workshop, I had little knowledge on developing cash flow statements for a business, now I understand that every transaction counts in a business. I also learnt that managing a business is not an easy task, there are so many internal as well as external factors that keep on changing and they in turn affect the business performance"

Established by Omran in association with the Ministry of Tourism and a group of local women, Zaree is a program that aims to empower communities in Wilayat Khasab to become economically self-sufficient and self-employed through selling special tour packages exclusively to female tourists who wish to visit Khasab Castle and embark on a cultural experience of a lifetime. Prior to the launch of the Zaree, Omran conducted a series of trainings programs that empowered the women to lead and implement the program successfully.

22/12/2012
Jusoor and SharakahTie-up to Support Community Development

Fund for Development of Youth Projects, SAOC (Sharakah), premier organization involved in development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME`s) has signed an agreement with Jusoor, a corporate social responsibility entity targeted at developing the community in North Al Batinah Governorate. The agreement aims at promoting leadership amongst Omanisin NorthAl Batinah Governorate and to contribute towards developing a positive impact in the targeted communities.

Jusoor is a non-profit social responsibility organization founded by Orpic, SoharAluminium& Vale in Oman and it aims at the development of the community through implementing sustainable social projects in North Al Batinah Governorate. Jusoor is a clear manifestation of the founding companies’ commitment towards its social responsibility.

The signing parties agreed to coordinate for one year to deliver learning sessions in the forms of workshops for the public and college students from North Al Batinah Governorate. Sharakah will deliver a workshop titled "Dynamic Entrepreneurship" which aims at making the participants understand how to establish and manage a business in changing economic and social environment.

Affirming on the need of boosting the young Omanis awareness of leadership, Abdullah Al Jufaili, Sharakah`s General Manager said “We believe that by working with Jusoor, we will be able to increase our customers base in North Al Batinah Governorates. Sharakah is keen and active in creating partnership opportunities with leading initiatives and organizations. We very much value what Jusoor is doing and we are delighted that we will be working together in developing the community.”

Fahad bin Salim Al Adi, Executive Manager of Jusoorsaid:“Ourcollaboration with Sharakah and the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding will undoubtedly add a lot to us in Jusoor through close cooperation to enhance the efforts of Jusoor in the field of entrepreneurship. Jusoor within their areas of work will contribute to the promotion of creating a culture of entrepreneurship and support the sector of small and medium-sizedenterprises which integrates with the roles played by the government and all interested partieswho are involved in the development and support of this sector.”

"This cooperation will allow Jusoorto exchange experiences and knowledge with Sharakah, under this MOU, Sharakah will provide a number of specialized workshops within the Enrichment Program which Jusoor will begin to implement early next year and will continue for a full year." Added Al Adi

"We hope that this will be the beginning of further cooperation opportunities with Sharakah in the field of entrepreneurship and development of small and medium-sized enterprises. We thank and appreciate the wonderful efforts that Sharakah contributes in the development of entrepreneurship." Said Al Adi

Implementing this social educational project for the college studentswillenhancetheir abilities and knowledge of understanding the market.

Jusoor Enrichment Program is one of Jusoor’s initiatives that are aimed at cascading knowledge among the Omani youth in North Al Batinah in the entrepreneurial field as well as career guidance and work ethics with the objective to contribute to the graduates readiness for joining the labor market.

04/11/2012
Sharakah is ISO Certified

In its efforts to improve the level of services offered to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME`s) in the Sultanate of Oman, Sharakah has achieved another milestone becoming ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System certified. Sharakah was incorporated by a Royal Decree in 1998 to promote and encourage entrepreneurship and SME`s by providing both financial and administrative support.

The final review was conducted on 29 August, 2012 by Intertek Corporation, one of the world`s largest ISO 9001 registrars. Sharakah underwent a rigorous evaluation process that included quality management system development, documentation review, pre-audit, initial assessment, and clearance of non-conformances, all of which work to identify corrective actions that eliminate non-conformance to the quality management standard.

The certification recognizes that Sharakah have standardized processes and procedures that adhere to international quality systems standards. "Indeed, our aim is to continually improve our internal processes and to ensure that our staff are developed to meet and exceed work requirements." Commented Maher Al Mahrouqi, Project Specialist and ISO Management Representative.

"We strive to improve our services and to ensure the sustainability of the businesses we support. This year alone we have supported 7 projects to date with an investment amount exceeding Rials 300,000. Becoming ISO certified means that we ensure more transparency in our operations." Add Maher

01/11/2012
Q & A - Sharakah`s Chairman - Mr. Hani Mohammed Al Zubair

What is Sharakah? What are its objectives? And what does it provide?

Sharakah was incorporated in 1998 by a Royal Decree as a Closed-Share Holding Company to support the development of growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME`s) in Oman.

Sharakah’s main objectives are to:

  • Support Oman’s vision 2020 to diversify the economy
  • Encourage the creation of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s)
  • Develop the entrepreneurial capacity of Omanis
  • Assist in creating sustainable SME’s
  • Create job opportunities for locals
  • We do this by providing three main services:

    Creating awareness about the importance entrepreneurship

    We do these by delivering seminars and workshops in schools, colleges and on various communities` related events. In line with the growing interest of community members to online social networks, Sharakah launched its social network channels through LinkedIn and Facebook. Indeed, the number of members and followers is increasing.

    Administrative Support

    Sharakah provides continuous guidance and support for SME`s. Our specialized staff review the operation of the business and its financials. We also help them in promoting their services or products through our business network.

    Financial Assistance

    We provide customized financial solutions to suit your need and we have three different schemes

    :
    • Loans : Assets based funding and working capital
    • Equity Finance : for high growth sectors
    • Bill Discounting : for short term requirements
    • You have mentioned something about financial support and you specified that there are three different schemes. What are the conditions and who is illegible to apply

      ?
      Loan Scheme
      • Term Loan for Assets Based Funding & Working Capital
      • Loan Amount between Rials 10,000 to 200,000
      • Minimum Client’s Contribution – For New Projects 33% & For Existing 20%
      • Interest rate 5%
      • Risk rate up to 2% depends on (project viability, clients capability & commitment)
      • Loan Period Maximum 6 years, including Moratorium.

      Equity Scheme

      • Equity participation in projects that are in high growth sectors
      • Investment amount between Rials 10,000 to RO 200,000
      • Shareholding between 25% to 49% dependent on the contribution amount
      • Minimum clients contribution 51% & the company should be an LLC Clear exit route within 6 years through buy back of shares or sale to third party
      • Bill Discounting Scheme – Seller wise

        • Customized to meet short term fund requirements
        • Aims at Improving the cash flow and liquidity of the business
        • 90 Day’s credit period
        • Facility for SME’s providing products/services to large public/private sector organizations
        • Investment amount between Rials 10,000 to 50,000
        • The business has to be in existence for at least one year
        • An audited balance sheet
        • Revolving limit to be renewed annually
        • Bill Discounting Scheme – Purchaser wise

          • Customized to meet short term fund requirements
          • Aims at Improving the cash flow and liquidity of the business
          • 90 Day’s credit period
          • Facility to large organizations who wish to purchase from SME’s
          • Limit between Rials 50,000 to 250,000
          • The supplier has to be from the SME Sector

          Generally we welcome most sectors, but we are targeting business in these sectors:

          • Hospitality Industry (Restaurants, Coffee Shops)
          • Leisure & Entertainment
          • Manufacturing Sector
          • Information Technology
          • Education and Training

          And we are targeting

          • Total project cost (New or Existing) should not exceed Rials 1 million
          • Sharakah’s contribution is between Rials 10,000 to Rials 200,000
          • Entrepreneurs with viable business plans
          • Businesses that will provide employment opportunities and contribute to community development
          • Clients who have adequate skills to manage the business

          Speaking of projects, how many have you supported to date? Can you provide examples?

          Since 2007 to date, we have provided support to 25 projects of which only 1 project has failed. The breakdown of the other 24 is as follow:

          • 3 projects were sanctioned but decided not to avail financial assistant at the time. However, they appreciate the administrative support that we have provided.
          • 3 projects have performed very well and paid off the loan amount. One of these projects has approached us again for refinancing and expansion.
          • 4 projects have just been established, they all look promising.
          • 5 projects are honoring their financial obligations but they are facing other operational challenges.
          • And 9 projects are operating well
          • All of these projects have created to date 95 job opportunities in the market. Some of these projects have expanded their customer base from their respective Willaya to reach customers in other Governorate and Williyat. Others have grown from 2 wemployees to 5 within less than 2 year.

            Some of our clients are:

            • Wadi Samail Equipments – renting construction equipments – Samail - Khalid Al Rawahi
            • Al Maghza Cement Products – tiles factory – Sur – Abdul Aziz Al Mukhaini
            • Mazoon Environmental Services – Muscat – Rayan Al Kalbani and Yaqoub Al Mahrouqi
            • What are the reasons for failure?

              There are many factors that could lead the business to fail. Some are related to changes in economic environment and others are related to the entrepreneur commitment and capabilities.

              In general, business owners need to stay alert with what is happening in the economic environment. The entry of a new competitor in the market will have an effect on the business performance. Also, lack of a proper marketing plan could lead to inability to reach the intended customers. Business owners should also exercise proper monitoring of the business performance by reviewing the cash flow statement.

              In light with changes happening in the community, what are Sharakah`s future plans?

              The board has just approved a comprehensive 5-Year strategy for Sharakah. Indeed, the overall emphasis is to increase our support to SME`s in Oman. The strategy took a holistic approach to improve all functions at Sharakah. In administration, Sharakah is working on implementing quality standards for its operations. In Human Resources, the emphasis will be on developing staff skills and building a stronger team to support the growing number of SME`s. In Marketing, we are planning to build more awareness through organizing seminars and participating in relevant events.

              In operations, we are planning to increase the average investment size as well as the number of projects. Additionally, we are working on introducing IT systems to enable the Project Specialists to properly monitor clients` performance. These are just few examples of many initiatives that we are looking forward to introducing and implementing in the coming 5 years.

              Do we need role models to encourage others? Is the community promoting entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship enough?

              Indeed, public sector jobs are perceived to be more attractive. If this mindset is to change, there is a need to promote and probably even glorify business leaders in the community, especially those who have established their businesses on their own. Many success stories in SME development in the Gulf are not sufficiently advertised

              Organizations that support SME`s should be more forthcoming with success stories and these stories should not only focus on the positive side rather give an overview of the hurdles one has to go to achieve success

              How can we create the right environment for SME`s?

              Before anything we need to clearly define the target group we would like to help. We need to have a unified definition of SME`s and not to forget Micro Businesses. We then need to identify all challenges that hinders SME growth and work with decision makers to minimize those challenges.

              Why should entrepreneurs approach Sharakah for funding rather than go to a bank? What advantage do they get from you?

              There are many initiatives that support SME and startups and each of them offer services that are unique to their targeted market. Sharakah is the only fund that offers equity financing options and we further customize the scheme to suit the requirement of the business. Most banks request a minimum of 100% of the investment amount as collateral. Apart from finance, we offer administrative services and guidance to ensure sustainability of the business.

              What are the basic qualifications you look for in a partnership venture?

              Generally we look at three areas: viability of the business plan; capability of the owner and his/her commitment to the business. We evaluate the business in terms of its competitive advantages, ability to grow and generate income and ability to compete.

              If a company in which you are involved is not doing too well, what do you do about it?

              As I explained earlier, our role is to ensure that sustainability of our clients. Each of our clients gets an assigned Project Specialist who reviews the progress of the business on a periodic basis. We try to look at ways in which we can minimize failure and it requires a great level of cooperation and transparency from the business owner.

              Indeed, when all actions to prevent the business from failing are exhausted, Sharakah follows the normal legal procedures.

              How do you gauge when it is time for you to pull out of a company, say if it is not making a profit?

              Our objective is not commercial, so No we will not pull out if the business is not making profit. Instead in that case, we put in more emphasis to help the business get out of the difficult situation.

              Do companies that are successful keep in touch with you after they take full ownership?

              Yes they do, we have three companies that have paid in full the loan amount. One of these companies has come back for additional investment. Moreover, whether a business has received financial support or not, we maintain an open dialogue with business owners to provide guidance and support.

              What kind of mentoring, social networking and other value additions do you offer to your partners?

              Very recently we launched a facebook and a LinkedIn page, the number of members in both pages exceeds 350 and its growing. Social media has proven to be a economical and widespread tool to enable us to reach to our targeted audience. Apart from that, we participate in different events and conduct our own seminars to build more awareness about our services.

10/10/2012
"Dynamic Entrepreneurs" workshop delivered to MCBS students by Sharakah`s GM

Intending to educate potential entrepreneurs and give them an overall idea of developing and managing business cash flow, Mr. Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah, with assistance of Maher Al Mahrooqi, Project Specialist of Sharakah, delivered a workshop titled "Dynamic Entrepreneurs". The attenders were 30 students from Modern College of Business Studies (MCBS). All targeted outcomes of the workshop transferred to the students through interested games and related case studies.

The students were highly engaged in discussing terms about entrepreneurship and SMEs, as well as risks associated with businesses. The students were asked to make their own cash flow analysis by using MS excel, developing company logo, teambuilding exercises, calculating loan, among others.

Commenting after the workshop, Dr. Venkat, Lecturer at MCBS said: "The exercises helped the students understand key aspects such as planning cash flows, evaluating business scenarios, team building, etc. The student gained a practical perspective of small business management. It was a highly effective skill enhancement workshop. Vital principles relating to entrepreneurship and small business management were embedded in various sessions that lasted around six hours."

 

The workshop was highly appreciated by the students and the College Administration asit was interesting and knowledge filled.

07/10/2012
Research to Assess the Entrepreneurial Capacity of Omanis

Fund for Development of Youth Projects, SAOC (Sharakah), premier institution in Oman involved in development of Small and Medium Enterprises(SME`s) has joined hands with Lighthouse LLC, one of the most renowned Human Resource Consulting firm in the region to initiate "Lighthouse Sharakah – Leaders and Entrepreneurs Assessment and Development Program” (LS – LEAD Program)."

This program aims to carryout an in depth research to identify competencies required by individualsto be successful entrepreneurs in Oman.

The research will entail analyzing various aspects related to creating a favorable environment for entrepreneurs, this includes the industrial environment, cultural upbringing, economic conditions, demographic profile and else. This will lead to developing a tool to assess the Entrepreneurial skills for locals to ensure that they run successful businesses.

This tool will be customized and designed to measure what is known as Entrepreneurial Value Index (EVI) of the individualagainst the set of competencies which were identified during the research, in a developmental paradigm. The result of this tool can then be used to give anyone who is eager to develop their own business a clear road map to acquire necessary skills to be a successful entrepreneur.

"SMEs are the backbone of the economic landscape.Their role in a developing the economy and addressing issues related to unemployment, resource utilization, distribution of wealth and else cannot be understated. According to concerned authorities, close to 80% of business in Oman are considered to be in the SMEs range. They contribute90% of the economic activities. They play a pivotal role in providing a delicate balance in business ecosystem dominated by other sectors like Oil & Gas, Banking and Trading." Said Ajay Singh Bhati, CEO and Managing Partner of Lighthouse LLC.

"It isimperative not only to identify talent having potential to be a successful entrepreneur but also to handhold them through variety of programs to harness business skills further so that they are able to contribute to the growth of the country. We approached Sharakah and found them forthcoming to partner with us on this initiative and I see this as a step in the right direction"added Bhati

The said Lighthouse – Sharakah LEAD study will be carried out in 3 phases. The first phase will focus on understanding the entrepreneurial landscape in Oman. It will consist of profiling Sharakah`s clients and then analyzing the process undertaken for entrepreneurial development.

Phase two will identify target successful entrepreneurs for conducting behavioral interviews. The data will then be collected to develop the competency clusters. This will lead to defining the competency profile for entrepreneurship in Oman.

The third phase a tool will be design to assess the entrepreneurial capacity of individuals and will include a pilot test of the assessment toll on a sample size of entrepreneurs.

The exercise will take close to 5 months to be completed. During this time the Lighthouse team will aim to meet and interview more than 200 entrepreneurs and various government and financial institutions involved in promoting entrepreneurship.

Emphasizing on the need to assess the entrepreneurial capacity of local, Abdullah Al Jufaili, Sharakah`s General Manager said "There are already a number of private and public sector initiatives in the community to promote entrepreneurship and support SME`s. These initiatives range from promotional seminars, training workshops, awards, financial support and mentoring services. Developing entrepreneurs requires identifying the areas that they need to be developed in at first, identifying the gaps and then introduce customized programs to fill these gaps. We believe that by working with Lighthouse we will be able to define the type of support entrepreneurs need to grow their businesses."

"The process of sanctioning any new application involves looking at three major criteria, the viability of the business, entrepreneur`s commitment and their skills and capabilities. For the last two, this tool will play a major role in providing a clear method for assessing an individual`s capability to manage the business." Commented Zuwaina Al Badai, Investment Analyst, Sharakah

Sharakah and Lighthouse agreed that this tool once developed will be installed free of charge to Universities, Colleges and Other Education Institutions to assess studentsfor their entrepreneurial skills. Lighthouse and Sharakah can further assist education institutes in developing mentoring programs for the studentshaving high EVIs to be able to work with successful entrepreneurs in Oman.

14/07/2012
Grant Thornton Abu Timam and Sharakah Join Hands to Support SME`s

Sharakah and Grant Thornton Abu Timam inked a deal last Wednesday to support the development of Small and Medium Enterprises in Oman. The signing ceremony took place at Sharakah`s office in Al Khuwair. The agreement entails that Sharakah and Grant Thornton Abu Timam will work closely to help entrepreneurs who are seeking to establish or grow their businesses and to learn how to develop viable business plans.

Nasser Al Mugheiry, Managing Director, Grant Thornton Abu Timam said "It`s about time that we sign this agreement with Sharakah, we have worked closely over the last 4 years in support of SME`s in Oman. In fact some of the recent businesses supported by Sharakah have received support from our firm in developing their business plan."

"We offer support to those who are willing to learn vis-à-vis those who just want a customized business plan. As per the agreement with Sharakah, the entrepreneur will have to learn the basics of conducting market research, understand the basis of establishing a business, develop his financial skills, think strategically and plan for mitigating risks associated with running a business." Added Al Mugheiry

Sharakah services are not limited to finance, the main objective of Sharakah is helping SME and Omani entrepreneurs sustain in the market. Since 2007, Sharakah has supported more than 25 projects by which more than 95 job opportunities were created in the local market.

"Very often, we come across potential entrepreneurs who have the passion to start a business. However, they lack the skills to produce viable businesses. This agreement we signed will help fill that gap by providing an opportunity to would-be entrepreneurs, the basis of any business plan. Indeed, keeping in mind that it is costly to get a professional business plan, we have agreed with Grant Thornton Abu Timam to offer a discounted rate for all clients referred to them by Sharakah. We surely hope that this will encourage more locals to establish their own enterprises." Said Dinkar Kishor, Deputy General Manager, Operations at Sharakah

06/07/2012
Entrepreneurship in a Changing Business Environment Workshop

Sharakah delivered a workshop to 30 students at Gulf College. The workshop titled "Entrepreneurship in a Changing Business Environment", focused on educating participants how to develop and manage cash flow forecast for Small to Medium size businesses. It also focused on providing a better understanding on how to manage a business in an ever changing business environment taking into consideration the internal and external factors that might affect any business.

Foraround five hours, the students were engaged in discussing terms about entrepreneurship and SMEs, as well as risks associated with businesses. A case study was presented to the students in order to understand how Cash Flow Statements work.

"It is one thing starting a business and it is another managing it through turbulence and a changing environment. Aside from promoting entrepreneurship, we believe that it is important for business owners to understand how to manage cash flow." Commented Maher Al Mahrouqi, Project Specialist at Sharakah

Emad Al Abduwani, student and one of the participants of the workshop said "Overall, the workshop was interactive and informative. The students showed their interest through their intensive participation during the workshop and they commented that there is no doubt this workshop will help them now in their studies as well as in their future occupational life."

A presentation followed the workshop presented by Halima Al Riyami, Marketing Specialist, gave overall information about Sharakah’s services and schemes. Halima highlighted Sharakah`s role in supporting SME`s and presented the three financial schemes Sharakah provides for SME`s namely Loan, Equity and Bill Discounting.

25/05/2012
Sharakah Participated in the 8th INSME Annual Meeting in South Korea

As one of the newest members, Sharakah participated in the 8th INSME Annual Meeting in South Korea. INSME which stands for International Network for Small and Medium Enterprises is a non-for-profit association which strives to stimulate transitional cooperation and public and private partnership in the field of innovation and technology transfers to SME`s.

The conference focused on innovation as a key theme and discussed topics like "The Role of Social Innovation to Create Added Value for SME`s and the Role of Government in Enabling Innovation in SME`s". Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager and INSME Member, delivered a presentation about The Role of Social Media in Promoting and Supporting SME`s.

The meeting is composed of 4 day event starting from 22 May till 25 May, comprising the INSME Board Meeting and General Assembly, an International Conference and Technical Industrial Visits.

The conference is aiming to increase knowledge sharing among INSME Members by learning from other Members’ experiences and from their case studies, as well as to encourage and accelerate cross border cooperation activities on a voluntary basis among them.

20/06/2012
Hani M. Al Zubair, Chairman of Fund for Development of Youth Projects, SAOC (Sharakah) talks to AFTAB H. KOLA

How successful Sharakah has been in creating the right entrepreneurial ambience in Oman?

The creation of the Fund for Development of Youth Projects by Royal Decree, also known as “Sharakah”, was a major milestone that reflected the country’s encouragement and commitment towards Omani entrepreneurs. At Sharakah, we offer equity support to Omani enterprise, extend term loan, guide the entrepreneur in setting up and doing a business, etc. The small and medium enterprises are strategic asset for the Omani economy and thus they need to be promoted in the right way. We also help in identifying the entrepreneurial opportunities in today’s scenario.

Out of the many projects that we have funded in the past few years only one has failed. Three projects are doing exceptionally well and have repaid the full loan. One of them has come back again for further support. Five projects have been established recently and they are doing fine. Five projects are doing okay andhonouring their commitments but there are some operational difficulties which we hope will be resolved. Nine other projects are also successful in their respective sectors. Some of the real success stories include a project in Samayil which deals in construction equipment. Another, a tiles & interlock factory in Sur and Mazoon Environmental Services in Muscat have also scripted excellent success stories, thanks to Sharakah.

How can we create the right environment for SMEs?

Absence of a clear-cut definition and objective norms for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Oman is one of the challenges facing the SME sector here. If we take the general norms of SMEs in Europe and the US, 60 to 70 per cent of companies which exists in Oman come under the criteria. There are very few companies that employ more than 500employess, except for some construction and oil companies. If 60 per cent of our businesses fall under SMEs, why are we bothering to promote them, as they are already successful. So, we need to redefine the definition of SME.

Notable though the Circular issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry today. The circular specified new criteria to define SME`s including micro businesses. This will play a role in developing a better environment for the SME`s by getting a better understanding of the market size.

Though the government has an active role to play but it will not be fair to put the entire onus on them. One thing is sure, the government needs to do away with bureaucratic red tape and I suggest that a Single Window Clearance Agency should be instituted for dealing with SME projects. The private sector should pitch in more vigorously by doing their bit in helping the SMEs to grow.

Another important point I would stress is that we need to have some of the professional businessmen, may be accountants, lawyers, and others as part of CSR initiatives, offer their help to give services to SMEs at subsidised rate. For Sharakah, our external auditors charge a very nominal amount, as part of their contribution to the sector. Besides they even offer free ‘Advisory Services’ to some of our clients.

We also signed an agreement last year with Grad Thornton Abu Timam to offer SME`s help and guidance in developing their business plans at a discounted rate. A number of the successful businesses that Sharakah supported recently have benefited from this relationship.

How do you ensure Omanisation in SMEs?

Traditionally we are a trading community and have very little production as of now. Sooner or later, our children will inherit our businesses. If we do not help in creation of wealth in Oman, thus nobody can afford to buy the products & services that the businesses have to offer, then what is the value of what they inherit? Here comes the Omanisation in picture. If we put hundred Rials in the hands of an expat employee, may be out of hundred rials, 20 rials would be spent locally, while the remaining amount will be taken out of the country and that’s normal. On the other hand, you put that 100 Rials in a local’s hands, in the economy it will represent up to 200 Rials for the fact that he will borrow against that. At least you would get that 100 Rials spent in Oman. That helps to create wealth , businesses will be successful, more employment opportunities for locals and this cycle goes on and on and eventually the economy of the country becomes more robust and more locals would be employed.

While we very much support businesses that create more opportunities for locals, we don`t place that as a condition. There are a number of challenges with Omanization and if we were to apply harder rules, we would end up just making it more challenging for SME`s.

Sharakah very much support local business owners and concentrate on building their capacity b providing continuous guidance, mentoring and follow up. We monitor the operation, the financial cash flow and the markets of which our clients operate.

In light with changes happening in the country, what are Sharakah`s future plans?

The Board met recently and approved a Five-Year Plan where we hope we would be able to promote Sharakah a bit more than in the past. We hope to support more entrepreneurs, expand the limits for each of the areas we have identified, cast the net a little wider so that more people participate in the business endeavours. We have effected some management changes and now we have a very competent, young General Manger who understands the industry well. We have over OR 8 million as our capital and reserve and we are using that to fund the projects. So, in order to support the office of Sharakah we need to make sure that we need to have a certain amount of fund in order to sustain ourselves. We are looking at other investment opportunities. We have some business houses who are interested to do something for the SME sector but they do not have the experience, expertise and time, but they want to demonstrate that they are playing a part in promoting the SME sector. We have requested such businessmen to join hands with us for the benefit of the sector.

Do companies that are successful keep in touch with you after they take full ownership?

Absolutely, we also keep in touch with them and also ensure that they continue to be successful and if they further need any help, whether financial or non-fiancial, they are free to contact us again. And some of them have done that in order to expand their businesses. And very recently, four of them came to us for further borrowing and considering their success we were happy to extend further support to them.

What kind of mentoring, social networking and other value additions do you offer to your partners?

We do our own advertising for Sharakah and try to highlight one of the prospective entrepreneurs / assisted projects in our advertisement. It really helps them. We have a wide network of supporters who actually funded Sharakah from day one and what we do is mix and match. Say, for instance, if Sharakah assisted tile and block companies need to sell their products and we connect these companies with our supporters/shareholders (who have contracting divisions) to help them to liase with contractors and request them to consider these companies for orders. Some of our associates, like Deloitte & Abu Timam (Grant Thornton) provide Advisory Services free or at verydiscounted rate. We are slowly growing our social network channels through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. We are not just an organisation where we lend money and say, ‘thank you’. Therein lies Sharakah’s goodwill and success.

Why should Entrepreneursapproach Sharakah for funding rather than go to a bank? What advantage do they get from you?

It is quite simple. Our aim is to help create the SME sector and to help the young entrepreneurs, create entrepreneurship attitude and ambience; we are not helping people for financial gains although we need certain amount of return for us to continue to help others but to help the entrepreneurs themselves. We are not security driven, rather more project and entrepreneur oriented. Our focus is more on ‘Greenfield’/startup projects, which is generally not touched by banks. Our borrowing rate is definitely cheaper than the banks. We guide the entrepreneurs in all aspects of setting up the SME, we are more like partner.

26/04/2012
Oman`s First Themed Loungeis Now Open

"Love at First Bite" Oman’s first themed Lounge, was inaugurated on Thursday evening,26th April 2012, in an event held at the Loungeunder the patronage of the Honorable Salim Bin Ismail Al Suwaid, Member of the State Council.Love at First Bite aims at providing adining experience that brings togetherthree different themed settings: A Sicilian walkway with street lights and a wishing well , a brightly coloured1001 Arabiannight’s tale dining areaas well as aFrench palace lounge and bedroom.

Love at First Bite is owned by Khalid Al Suwaid, a young 22 year old Omani entrepreneur, who has studied in Australia and decided to bring a new experience to the restaurant, entertainment and hospitality industry in Oman.Khalid has carefully designed the 220+ squared meter space and has steered the engineering of the detailed and innovative menu after months of detailed evaluation, thus offering a fusion of different dishes and cuisines all under one roof. The project is one of many other businesses supported by Sharakah.

"Over the past 20months, we have paid careful attention to detail in every step to ensure that Love at First Biteredefines the concept of dining. As love knows no boundaries our food comes from all over the world. Dining at Love at First Bite is an experience from the moment you walk into those doors, you are invited to unwind and relax at the area of your choice. Amidst, luxurious seating arrangements and a vibrant atmosphere, we look forward to meeting you at Love at First Bite, where the food is to dine for. And as always, we promise you a delicious experience" Said Khalid addressing the guests at the opening ceremony.

The Honorable Salim Bin Ismail Al Suwaid, Member of the State Council, said "I have seen this project from its initiation stage to its inauguration; it is truly remarkable to be part of such a beautiful project that once again proves the innovation and capabilities that Oman`s youth has to offer with the support and wisdom of His Majesty."

Complimenting Khalid, Abdullah Al Jufaili, Sharakah`s General Manager said "We are in the lookout for businesses in the service industry that are innovative and unique. Our analyses of the market indicate that there is a growing trend towards dining and experimenting different cuisine, thus Love at first Bite has a growing market to serve."

Love at First Bite is located in Shatti Al Qurum (in the same Building of Bank of Beirut), opened every day for those who want to experience Love at First Bite! For more information please visit www. bitelounge.com

27/03/2012
Sharakah 12th AGM emphasizes the Increased Support for SMEs in Oman

The 12th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Sharakah was held on 26th March 2012 at Park Inn Hotel, presided by Mr. Hani bin Mohamed Al-Zubair, Chairman, with the attendance of the Board of Directors, Shareholders and officials from the concerned authorities.

The AGM discussed and approved the Audited Financial Statements for the year 2011 and the appointment of Statutory Auditor for the financial year 2012.

Hani stated that Sharakah’s main objective has always been developing the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) Sector in the Sultanate by providing the necessary support for entrepreneurs and SME’s. Since its inception, Sharakah has offered three general services for entrepreneurs and SME`s, the first is building awareness about the importance of entrepreneurship, the second is administrative support and the third is financial support.

"In terms of Building Awareness, during 2011, Sharakah delivered a number of awareness seminars and workshops in the community. As well as, Sharakah participated for the first time in Muscat Youth Summit which was highly appreciated by Brand Oman Management Unit.Overall number of individuals who have been in contact with Sharakah, whether through email, phone or walking in to our premises has increased and there were a total of 371 inquiries from across Oman." Commented Hani

"In 2011, 7 projects were sanctioned with the total value of Rials 214,000. These projects have created 26 additional job opportunities in the market. To date, Sharakah has provided support to 25 projects.These 25 businesses come from different sectors including Information Technology, Engineering, Manufacturing, Services and Food industries. All in all, these businesses have created 95 job opportunities in the market." He added.

"Further, Sharakah`s equity scheme received special SME Product Award at the Malta Islamic Finance Conference in October 2011.2011 was a great year for Sharakahand we look forward to continue of the same footsteps to ensure that we play a major role in nurturing SME’s and in the overall economic development of Oman." Concluded Hani

Abdullah Al Jufaili, who has joined Sharakah as General Manager last year commented saying "Building on what Sharakah has achieved in the last few years, we have ambitious plans for the next five years. The economy in general and the SME market is ever changing and we have to adapt to this change. We are planning to be more active in promoting our services."

15/03/2012
Managing a Business in a Changing Business Environment

Sharakah delivered a workshop to 30 participants at "Qudurat working sessions", organized by Tawasul on 15 March 2012. The workshop titled "Managing a Business in a Changing Business Environment" focused on providing a better understanding on how to manage a business in an ever changing business environment taking into consideration the internal and external factors that might affect any business. As well as, educating participants how to develop and manage cash flow statements for businesses.

"We know that understanding financial statements could be quite complicated for an average person, therefore we developed this 6-hours engaging workshop which takes the participants through a series of activities to develop the cash flow statement than understand the factors that could affect any business." said Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah

Maryam Al Maqbali, one of the participants from the workshop said "Before this workshop, I had little knowledge on developing cash flow statement for a business, now I understand that every transaction counts in a business. I also learnt that managing a business is not an easy task, there are so many internal as well as external factors that keep on changing and they in turn affect the business performance."

This workshop was part of a series of workshops that Tawasul conducts in the Qudurat program. Qudrat is a series of working sessions for young Omanis focusing on Social Responsibility and Entrepreneurship. The initiative is comprised of 3 work sessions complemented by a 3 Majlis Dialogue sessions. These sessions address important themes such as: Goal Setting and Strategic Planning, Communication and Advocacy Skills leading towards a better understanding of the Civil sector in Oman and potential roles for youth

13/03/2012
Sharakah Delivers a Presentation at SQU

Part of its services to create awareness amongst community members about the importance of entrepreneurship, Sharakah delivered a presentation titled "20 Questions that you must answer in any business plan" to group of 65 students of the College of Engineering at Sultan Qaboos University.

Dr. Ali Al Shidhani, Lecturer and organizer of the seminar commented "We try to educate students on the importance of career planning before graduation. Entrepreneurship and enterprise establishment is not and should not be limited to students of commerce related degrees. Through these seminars, we want students to understand the importance of entrepreneurship as a career choice. Further how to turn their innovative ideas into viable businesses"

"When it comes to starting or establishing a business small or big, one should have a strategy or in this case a business plan. Indeed, there are important elements in any business plan and what we have tried to do in this presentation is to make the students understand these elements through a series of questions related to the market, the products or service, the expected investment amount, risk associated and overall strategic planning." Said Halima Al Riyami, Marketing Specialist, Sharakah

19/02/2012
New Staff Join Sharakah

Sharakah Employs Fresh Omani Graduates in Four Positions

Sharakah is proud to announce and welcome the new staffs who have joined the team on 18 February 2012. The new staff are four Omani who have graduated from colleges recently. Maher Al-Mahrooqi, Halima Al-Riyami, Umaima Al-Ghadani and Saida Al-Busaidi have shown energy and aspiration to fulfil their tasks.

Maher Al-Mahrooqi is appointed as a Project Specialist, having graduated from Sultan Qaboos University in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. He worked as a “Student Brand Manager” for Red Bull Oman when he was student from mid-2009 until December 2011.

Umaima Al-Ghadani, joined Sharakah as an Investment Analyst, graduated from Higher College of Technology in 2011 holding a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Umaima`s responsibility will be to review new applications and advice on whether they are economically viable or not.

“I’m a fresh graduate with bachelor’s degree in International Business Administration. I always look for personal development opportunities to ensure my skills are kept up to date, so my job as a Marketing Specialist will surely boost myself confidence and give me the chance to gain deep knowledge and rich experience in Marketing", said Halima Al Riyami

Zuwaina Al-Badai, Investment Analyst at Sharakah, said; “I can see that the number of interested people who came to our booth has increased obviously from the previous years which is an indicator to the people’s interests to establish and own their businesses and so by that, it helps us to meet our objectives. Certainly our services go beyond just financial support, we monitor the progress of each company to ensure it success”.

This comes as part of Sharakah`s strategy to enhance the services it provides to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME`s) in Oman. Indeed, since its inception in 1998, Sharakah has been support entrepreneurs and SME`s across Oman. To date it has supported 27 projects, some of which are prominent business in the SME sector.

18/02/2012
Sharakah Appoints Three New Staff

Sharakah recently announced the appointment of Maher Al-Mahrooqi, Umaima Al-Ghadani, and Halima Al Riyami as new staff holding different positions in marketing, accounts and project departments.

The three new staff are Omani fresh graduates with bachelor’s degree in Accounting and International Business Administration. They were selected after passing the exam and interview successfully. That goes side by side with the Sultanate’s orientation for Omanizing and employing Omanis in public and private sector.

"We posted an advertisement on local newspapers and various social network sites. The response was overwhelming. We received more than 700 applications, the majority of which mentioned that they came to know about the advertisement from social network sites like facebook, Linkedin and Omani Sabla." Said Nasra Al Ghusaini, HR Specialist

"Through the screening process, we have selected 515 applications which fit the requirements advertised, the majority of which were females at 53%. All of which were invited to attend the examination and only 219 showed up. 32 candidates were called to attend the interview and ultimately 4 were hired." Add Al Ghusaini

Umaima Al-Ghadani, one of the new staff appointed as an Investment Analyst, said “I feel that working in Sharakah is really interesting as it encourages people to establish their own business. It is exciting to work with an organization that supports development in the community.”

18/02/2012
Sharakah Participated in the 4th SME Conference & Exhibition

As a means to build awareness and promote Sharakah services. Sharakah participated in the 4th Annual SME Conference & Exhibition that took place in Oman Exhibition Centre from 13 to 15 February. The Conference was inaugurated by HE Sheikh Saad Al Sadi, Minister of Commerce & Industry.

Zuwaina Al-Badai, Investment Analyst at Sharakah, said; “I can see that the number of interested people who came to our booth has increased obviously from the previous years which is an indicator to the people’s interests to establish and own their businesses and so by that, it helps us to meet our objectives. Certainly our services go beyond just financial support, we monitor the progress of each company to ensure it success”.

Sharakah was incorporated in 1998 by a Royal Decree to support the development of Small and Medium Enterprises in Oman. They offer three different schemes for finance as well as administrative support to ensure sustainability of the businesses.

04/06/2011
Sharakah appoints Abdullah Al Jufaili as General Manager

Fund for Development of Youth Projects, also known as Sharakah, announced last Wednesday, the appointment of Abdullah Al Jufaili as the new General Manager.

Having graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 1999 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Managing Information Systems, Al Jufaili started his professional career at Bank Muscat where he enrolled in the Management Trainee program. In 2002 he joined OCIPED –currently known as The General Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development- as an Information Technology Specialist managing the IT infrastructure and promoting foreign investment in the field of Information Communication Technology.

In 2004, he joined Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) and together with his colleagues, he was in charge of launching and managing the first business incubator program, The Knowledge Mine (TKM) he also acted as the IT Manager for The Public Establishment for Industrial Estate (PEIE). In 2006, he was awarded a Chivening scholarship from the British Council and completed his Masters Degree in Managing Information Technology from Salford University in the UK. A year later, he joined Shell Development Oman as Intilaaqah Director, providing support and development for current and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Apart from his direct responsibilities, Al Jufaili was an editor of Digital Oman and a cofounder/editor of Ruwad, the first magazine dedicated towards Small and Medium Enterprises in Oman.

Hani Al Zubair, Chairman, The fund for Development of Youth Projects, said, "Abdullah brings with him a broad range of experience in the SME sector, which will prove particularly valuable to Sharakah. We are delighted to have him on board spearheading this important initiative."

20/03/2011
Sharakah Board invites shareholders for AGM

The Board of the Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah) has invited the shareholders to attend the Annual General Meeting for the fiscal year ending on 31st of December 2010 at Platinum Hotel on April 18.

The meeting will discuss the board of directors’ report for the last fiscal year, study the auditor’s report and elect seven board members for the period of three years. Sharakah’s board of directors has invited all those who wish to nominate themselves for the board membership to fill in the nomination form prepared by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry that could be obtained from the management of the Fund.

The meeting will study ratifying the allowances of attending the board of directors’ sessions and the emanating committees gained by the board members of the Fund during the last fiscal year. It will also determine the allowances of attending the board of directors’ sessions for the current fiscal year that ends on the 31st of December 2011. The meeting will also study appointing the auditors for the current fiscal year.

07/03/2011
Muscat Youth Summit (MYS) Workshop Presenter Interview

Introduction

This is an interview with Abdullah Al Jufaili, who heads up Sharakah (Fund for Development of Youth Projects)

About MYS

Tell us about some of the highlights from your participation in MYS 2010.

I have participated in the 1st and 2nd Muscat Youth Summit and the first thing that I would say is there was a lot of positive energy amongst the participants. I was surprised with the wealth of knowledge coming from the youngsters and their eagerness to learn more. I particularly remember one student who came to me saying “starting a business has always been my dream and this is the first time that I learn how to go about establishing my own enterprise!”

What’s the focus of your MYS workshop?

Similar to last year, I will focus on entrepreneurship development with more emphasis on budgeting and cash flow management for a small business. We will do this using case studies and presenting scenarios from business environment.

What types of conversations and discussions do you hope will emerge during MYS 2011? I would like to see every student asking themselves the question “what would I do differently after this?” and our challenge as speakers will be to make them realize that there is a lot they can do for the betterment of themselves and the community at large.

What do you hope will be the takeaway from your MYS workshop?

I guess I have answered this above

About Youth

How would you describe youth culture in a word?

Morph (what I mean to say its evolving quickly)

What do you think are the main issues facing young people today?

It depends at which age!

  • At a younger age the need to feel that they belong to the crowd
  • The need to be heard and when heard that their views are taken seriously
  • Employment
  • Financial security and fear of uncertain future with all changes happening in the world

The field of youth media is just exploding right now. Where do you see it heading?

I think in few years, majority of people looking for news will search for news in social media and other online sources. A number of examples come to my mind related to this, one of them is when cyclone Phet Oman in 2009. A group of SQU students start a group sharing authentic information about the cyclone. In few hours they managed to have more than 5,000 members in the group and the group was actually the most reliable source of information during the cyclone.

Which brands do you think are best connecting with young people today and why?

  • Technology: Apple – iPhone really changed the way people use mobile devices
  • Online: Facebook – until google+ become more popular facebook will dominate social interaction at different levels
  • Furniture: IKEA – affordable and modern
  • Food: Kelloggs - quick and healthy

What emerging trends do you see within youth culture breaking out soon?

Freedom of expression and freedom of choice. Probably in the past parents or elderly people dictated to a large extent what choices youngsters made for their future. The newer generation is more liberal and prefers to make decision themselves. I also see a strong move towards bridging cultures, youth live in a world of their own where they are not limited to political barriers. I don’t remember having friends from across the globe before I went for college studies, an average youth nowadays will have friends from every continent in the world. This in turn provides an opportunity not to only share cultural values but also share them!

Young people today are ‘chameleons’ changing their look/character based on their environment/people they’re hanging with. Do you agree or disagree?

I say this does not apply to youth only, so yes I agree and I believe the surrounding environment plays a key role in shaping our characteristics.

About You

Tell us about a day in your life and what your work routine is like.

Weekdays, I spend most of my time at work meeting with staff, business partners and clients. I always start my day with a spicy ginger tea, it is rejuvenating and I end it with a cup of plain black coffee while I read business plans or write reports.

What are your insights from working with young people? What’s unique about working with this generation?

Younger people are so curious, they will not settle for a simple plain answers for their questions. You need to explain further. I find that my communication has improved even further due to adopting different communication style for different groups.

What’s something challenging about the work you do?

Maintaining balance between community needs, board expectations and staff requirements.

Do you have any role models or sources of inspiration?

Has always been and would remain the same Prophet Mohammed Peace Be Upon Him.

How has Facebook impacted your life?

Provided a new channel for me to communicate with family, friends and community members.

What`s something concrete and tangible you`ve learned in the last three months?

Even if you are at the top of the pyramid, you need a tap on the shoulder

About Youth Entrepreneurship

What got you interested in youth entrepreneurship?

The fresh and creative ideas that come forward from the younger generation. In addition an opportunity to transform these ideas into profitable business.

What are some of the key problems facing young entrepreneurs today? And how are they being solved?

An answer to this question is a research paper by itself, but I will try to summarize it.

  • In general the process of establishing any business in Oman is very difficult despite all efforts made by MOCI and OCCI!
  • The current financial schemes offered for start-up businesses are not suitable for all entrepreneurs.
  • Barriers to enter (a market mostly dominated by large companies) are very high.
  • There isn’t enough support offered in terms of guidance and skills development for entrepreneurs.
  • There absence of trust in the community for local based business and Omani origin products.
  • Lack of accurate and timely information to develop business plans (information about the market)
  • Absence of role models

With only 0.25% of major commercial banks and MFIs dedicating financial services to youth, there’s no doubt that youth are marginalized. How should we be investing in our youth to promote entrepreneurial activity?

Before we invest in their project, we should invest in building their capacity. Not every is going to end up being an entrepreneur and that is a fact. Those who choose to be need to understand what it takes to establish and run a business.

Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup said: youth financial services aren’t the main factor in promoting entrepreneurship. “Money is easy. Individuals are an energy unit which we have to learn to harness.”

Wow, I am delighted that what I answered above is in line with this statement

Clifton’s sees entrepreneurship to be the result of the perfect mix of optimism and determination. It’s not just optimism – “optimism on its own can be annoying.” However, when you overlay it with determination, then you have something. Is he right?

I agree, but I would say that you also need to add expertise in the field of the activity to the ingredients.

Today’s older generation needs to expose young people to the challenge of carrying the responsibility for driving their country forward and giving them the opportunity to rise to that challenge. Would this approach help boost levels of enterprise and innovation among young people?

Yes

What kinds of policy recommendations would you make to governments to make entrepreneurship easier for youth?

Introduce entrepreneurship in the curriculum

20/02/2011
Sharakah highlights experience in funding SMEs

The Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah) officials briefed His Excellency Ali bin Masoud Sunaidi, Minister of Sports Affairs and His Excellency Maqbool bin Ali bin Sultan, Minister of Commerce and Industry, and other dignitaries about equity and other means of financial support offered by the Fund to small and medium enterprises owned by Omani entrepreneurs.

The ministers and other dignitaries visited the Sharakah pavillion after inaugurating Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Exhibition and Conference at Oman International Exhibition Centre recently.

Sharakah officials told the dignitaries about efforts exerted by the Fund to acquaint the public about its rich experience in supporting and financing private initiatives that aim at encouraging the Omani youth to establish their own projects.

Dinkar Kishor, Assistant General Manager of Sharakah, said: "Unlike last two years, this year we are showcasing projects that have benefitted from our financial support. This way we would like to reach out to budding entrepreneurs who can learn more about the projects first-hand and also know more about the businesses that have achieved resounding success.”

"By participating in the expo, we do generate a lot of awareness among prospective entrepreneurs who wish to establish own projects in the near future. Sharakah has been receiving a lot of enquiries over the last few months, and we are financing and mentoring a lot more projects than the previous years,” he added.

Al Shaa Al-Lama Trading and Fantasia Art Productions and Distribution are some of the Sharakah beneficiaries who are displaying their products and services at the venue under Sharakah banner. This is a support extended by the Fund.

Ali Al Hashmi, owner of Al Shaa Al-Lama Trading, a company into decoration and modern paint, said: “We have been associated with Sharakah for the last one year, and we are extremely happy with the kind of mentoring they provide from time to time other than financing our project. We source paints from Italy and we are exclusive dealer for a few brands in Oman. Our skilled manpower has the technique of using these paints for interior décor. Our business is picking up, and a lot of credit goes to Sharakah as well.”

Commenting on his business, Zakariya Yahya Al Zadjali, Managing Director of Fantasia Art Productions and Distribution, said: “When we were looking to expand our business by way of procuring latest equipments, Sharakah helped us with funding. What makes it a win-win situation is the kind of counseling we receive from Fund officials to take our business to the next level.”

“We are among a handful of companies into film production in Oman and we hope to attract a few customers during the SME Exhibition and Conference. I thank Sharakah for their continued support,” he added.

03/12/2010
`Sharakah` consolidates concept of partnership and support Communication

The Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah) held a meeting with the investors who are benefiting from its support and finance.

The meeting was aimed at sharing information in regards with the progress of their investment projects in the different economic sectors and updating them with the details about the phases which these projects have already passed.

In the meeting, the investors also shared their viewpoints about the role of the fund in financing individual initiatives as well as assessed this experience in view of the ground realities the investors encountered with as they started establishing their private projects.

During the deliberations, the officials of the fund also wanted to know the future aspirations of the investors in regards with promoting and developing these business projects.

Abdul Qadir Ahmed, General Manager of Sharakah, after his emerging from the meeting with the investors, said: "The meeting was fruitful as we held detailed discussions, on the progress of work in their projects, with the investors benefiting from the finance provided by the fund, ".

He said that some projects have already been completed and achieved good results. There are other projects that are soon to be completed and would be fully operational shortly.

Mr. Abdul Qadir stated: "We are satisfied with the initiatives taken in this regards. These efforts have achieved significant successes in establishing private projects which have added value to the national economy. They have also helped in ensuring benefits for the local communities, especially in the area of construction industry which is currently in increasing demand resulted by the speedy growth in the real estate sector.

Mr. Abdul Qadir Bin Ahmed said that the meeting also reviewed the progress of work in financing the projects by the fund. The procedures and steps taken to complete the financing process were also discussed to know to the viewpoints of the investors.

He also pointed out that the remarks of the investors were of utmost importance and were very constructive. Some of their points of views will be taken into consideration in the future financing processes.

"We are looking forward to develop the financing process of private initiatives in the economic sectors which can enable the Omani Youth in starting their own projects and encourage them to take this approach", emphasized Mr. Abdul Qadir.

The investors benefiting from the support provided by Sharakah lauded the role of the fund and its considerable contributions in supporting different enterprises and adopting their ideas while aiming at establishing private projects. They confirmed that the support of the fund contributed significantly to the success of their initiatives and achieve their aspirations.

30/11/2010
Sharakah organizes workshop:Entrepreneurs told to implement road safety culture

The workshop was conducted by Ms. Bernadette Bhacker, Director, Sustainability LLC. Talking about safe driving aspects in the Sultanate, Bernadette called upon companies to have a responsibility to employ and engage drivers who are ‘fit to drive’ to ensure others are not put at risk by their work-related activities, including driving.

“Your involvement and action as head of the company will affect the attitudes and behaviours of others and set the organisation’s fleet safety culture,” she told the entrepreneurs, adding, “As an employer you have a duty of care for the health, safety and well-being of your staff, contractors and the population in the areas in which you operate.”

Bernadette called upon companies to invest in drivers having good qualification, valid licence and training. “The establishments should understand that road safety is a shared responsibility and they should put good systems and policies in place to improve the safety standards,” she said.

The director of Sustainability LLC said road crash death figures are still a worrying factor for Oman, adding, “Over the last few years, the crashes have occurred to a variety of reasons like rapid development, highly motorised roads, high performance vehicles, high portion of male drivers, poor driver training, low levels of road safety education, fast roads and high posted speed limits and limited speed management measures.”

She called upon the people to be more pro-active by asking for better road safety standards. The change is happening in the Sultanate and the next decade will be crucial in this regard, Bernadette added.

Dinkar Kishor, Assistant General Manager of Sharakah said: “The primary objective of organsing this workshop is to spread awareness among Omani entrepreneurs about road safety so that they can bring a change in the attitude and behaviour of their employees while on roads."

“Other than financing the projects, we try to look into various aspects of running a successful business. We mentor our investors time and again, and the Driving for Better Business workshop is one such initiative,” he added.

Yaqoub Khalfan Salim Al-Mahrooqi, an entrepreneur and a participant, praised the efforts of Sharakah for organizing the workshop, and urged all businessmen to make road safety their numero uno priority.

Sharakah is the brand name of the Fund for Development of Youth Projects. Its core objectives are to provide equity and other means of financial support to small and medium enterprises owned by Omani entrepreneurs.

17/10/2010
`Sharakah` briefs Engineering students about Entrepreneurship & Services of `Youth Fund`

Students of Caledonian College of Engineering were introduced to the concept of how to start their own businesses at a presentation and interactive made by the Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah).

Dinkar Kishor, Assistant General Manager of ‘Sharakah’ explained the concept and spirit of becoming a successful ‘Entrepreneur’. He explained how the Youth Fund supports Omani entrepreneurs by providing them with funding and necessary expertise needed to develop their business ideas into profitable ventures. Around 75 students attended the presentation.

AGM emphasized to the students the need to support the Spirit of Entrepreneurship in order to build Oman’s economy and create jobs for themselves and for fellow Omanis, which is the need of the hour. He said that instead of becoming a job seeker, they should become the job provider!

At the end of an enlightening session, Dinkar thanked Department of Educational and Professional Development at Caledonian College of Engineering for introducing the brilliant concept of ‘Advanced Life Skills Development Program’ in their curriculum, as it is very relevant and also for giving an opportunity to Sharakah to interact with the vibrant Youth, who are future of the country. He welcomed the college’s decision to make this workshop a regular feature for students in various semesters.

Dr Ahmed Hassan Al Bulushi, Senior Deputy Dean of the College also addressed the students on this occasion and urged them to opt for entreneurship. Besides the students, the programme was attended by officials of ‘Sharakah’ Faculties of Deptt of Educational & Professional Development.

Sharakah is the brand name of the Fund for Development of Youth Projects. Its core objectives are to provide equity and other means of financial support to Small and Medium Enterprises owned by Omani entrepreneurs.

28/06/2010
Sharakah to support AIESEC Young Leaders Forum 2010

The Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah) will support the AIESEC Young Leaders Forum 2010which will be held in Muscat on June 30.

A MoU in this regard was recently signed between Abdul Qadir Ahmed, General Manager of Sharakah and Anjali Thaker, President of AIESEC in Oman. Sharakah will be platinum sponsor of the event.

The general manager said, “Sharakah decided to support the conference to activate the spirit of leadership among youth and to provide a positive impact on communities in Oman.”

Established in 1948, AIESEC is the world`s largest youth organization with 35,000 members from 1,700 universities in 107 countries. AIESEC aims to spread awareness among students about critical issues in their community, provide them with the needed skills to develop and discover their potentials and advance their involvement in their local community and the world issues.

Sharakah is the brand name of the Fund for Development of Youth Projects. Its core objectives are to provide equity and other means of financial support to Small and Medium Enterprises owned by Omani entrepreneurs.

17/05/2010
Sharakah, KOM discuss ways to promote SMEs in IT

The Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah) officials recently got first-hand information about the experience of the Knowledge Oasis Muscat in encouraging small and medium enterprises (SME).

The Fund officials were briefed about added value software and information technology initiatives, the technological solutions and adopting some specific technical projects that enhance the digital culture in the Sultanate.

Sharakah, headed by Abdul Qadir Ahmed, General Manager, also discussed challenges faced by SMEs. He posed some ideas concerning minimizing the challenges by way of integrated feasibility studies for business ideas and steps to benefit from the new strategies of the fund in developing the ideas, projects and financing.

Officials from Sharakah were also briefed about existing business projects in the Knowledge Mine and were informed about new services offered by the mine for the authors of ideas and business works.

10/05/2010
Sharakah briefs students about youth fund

As part of efforts exerted by the Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah) to raise awareness about the importance of creating private commercial businesses and entrepreneurship, Sharakah gave a presentation at Al Nab Primary School for Girls recently.

Ahmed Bin Suleiman Bin Younis Al Naabi, Administrative and Financial Officer at Sharakah, presented the objectives of the Fund that aim at supporting private initiatives to create entrepreneurship projects by the categories of youth in the Sultanate and focusing on creative ideas that add an important value to business.

Al Naabi explained the business and investment aspects in many sectors that are financed by the Fund for Development of Youth Projects. He highlighted some successful examples that benefited from the support of Sharakah during the past years. Al Naabi focused on the diversity of support means adopted by the Fund with the objective of finding appropriate alternatives for the persons who wish to practice business and entrepreneurship in the ways that suit the desires of those people.

Sharakah is the brand name of the Fund for Development of Youth Projects. Its core objectives are to provide equity and other means of financial support to Small and Medium Enterprises owned by Omani entrepreneurs.

04/05/2010
Sharakah takes part in career fair

The Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah) recently participated in the annual careers fair held at Oman Tourism and Hospitality Academy.

The event was inaugurated by Sayyid Hamed Bin Hilal Al Busaidi, Labour Undersecretary, Ministry of Manpower. The Fund exhibited the financing opportunities it offers to many sectors including the tourism sector that gets huge attention from the management of the Fund in order to keep pace of the development that this vital sector witnesses in the country as a result of the growing opportunities in tourism spheres and supporting services.

The participation of the Fund came with the objective of spreading the awareness about the importance of small and medium enterprises sector, and showing how to benefit from this sector in creating job opportunities for the Omani citizens, enriching the national economy and teaching the graduates how to make feasibility studies for their next projects and how to benefit from the services offered by the Fund. Sharakah is the brand name of the Fund for Development of Youth Projects. Its core objectives are to provide equity and other means of financial support to small and medium enterprises owned by Omani entrepreneurs.

24/03/2010
Sharakah held its 11th AGM

The 11th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Sharakah (Fund for Development of Youth Projects S.A.O.C.) was held on 24th March 2010 at Radisson Blu Hotel.

Mr. Said Al Sahib, Vice Chairman, Sharakah, presided at the AGM. The meeting was attended by the Board of Directors, Shareholders and the officials from the concerned authorities.

The AGM discussed and approved the Audited Financial Statements for the year 2009 and the appointment of Statutory Auditors for the financial year 2010.

The Vice Chairman in his address stated that: “during last year the Fund had achieved the employment generation to 24 Omanis through the financially assisted units. After rebranding exercise under the new name of Sharakah last year, the Fund assisted 7 projects during last two years through various financial schemes and all are performing well. The Chairman also thanked the shareholders for their support, perseverance and strong belief in the Fund’s Mission”.

The Vice Chairman also mentioned the announcement of Mr. Abdul Qader Ahmed as the new General Manager of the Sharakah and he will be fully engaged in developing and implementing business strategy for the Fund.

Sharakah (Youth Fund) program is owned and operated by the Fund for the Development of Youth Projects. Its core objective is to provide Equity and other means of financial support to Small & Medium Enterprises owned by Omani Entrepreneurs.

22/03/2010
Sharakah participates in recruitment exhibition in Sohar

Sharakah (Fund for Development of Youth Projects) is participating in the recruitment exhibition that is being organized by six applied science colleges -- Nizwa, Sohar, Sur, Salalah, Ibri and Rustaq – in Sohar from March 22 till March 24.

Sharakah’s objective is to brief new graduates about opportunities the Fund provides for establishing private projects and the financing options provided by the Fund for supporting youth projects.

The Fund showcased available opportunities for small and medium enterprises in the field of amusement, entertainment, supporting industries, information technology, learning, training and the support services related to the construction, tourism, oil, gas and manufacturing sectors.

Sharakah officials in a presentation to the students explained benefits and support offered by the Fund through the available financing programmes, whether through the loans offered by the Fund or participating with capital in establishing the projects that attracts financing from private investors, individuals or financial organisations.

In future, the Fund aims to participate in recruitment exhibitions held by academic institutions and the other organizations to inform the public about its activities, financing programmes and its support for the projects.

Sharakah is owned and operated by the Fund for the Development of Youth Projects. Its core objective is to provide equity and other means of financial support to Small and Medium Enterprises owned by Omani entrepreneurs.

07/03/2010
Sharakah participates in SQU Career Fair

Sharakah (Fund for Development of Youth Projects S.A.O.C.) has taken part in the Career and Training Opportunities Fair, organized by the Centre for Career Guidance at Sultan Qaboos University opened on 7th March 2010 under the auspices of Sayyid Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Busaidy, Chairman of the State Audit Institution.

The Shatakah participation was attracted a large number of Senior Officials from various organizations and students from top educational institutions. The participation was very beneficial for creating awareness of Sharakah among potential young Omani entrepreneurs who are interested to establish their own business as part of Sharakah’s objectives. Sharakah participated last year also in the fair.

Sharakah program is owned and operated by the Fund for the Development of Youth Projects. Its core objective is to provide Equity and other means of financial support to Small & Medium Enterprises owned by Omani Entrepreneurs.

09/11/2009
Sharakah supports Intilaaqah Best Young Entrepreneurs award 2009

Sharakah (Youth Fund) supported the Intillaqah Awards 2009 for Supporting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award (recognizes successful Entrepreneurs) by providing sponsorship as part of Sharakah’s objectives. The Company Layali Al Asalah had won the award and the awards presentation ceremony was held on 9th November 2009 to recognize and congratulate the winning entrepreneurs.

The company runs into the fashion designing and these young entrepreneurs won in various competitions organized in Oman.

14/10/2009
Sharakah supports for community service

Sharakah – Fund for Development of Youth Projects (S.A.O.C.) has taken part in the community service support for 6 trainees recently in collaboration with AMIDEAST for the Dutch Embassy funded program.

The trainees were explained the functioning of the Fund and were given exposure to the day to day working. It helped them in having hands on experience which will be useful in their life.

The Fund’s participation was aimed as part of the objective set for the Fund to the community to support young entrepreneurs.

15/08/2009
Sharakah supports the Construction Industry

Sharakah (Youth Fund) recently supported Salim Nasser Khamis ALMawely for technology upgradation and expansion of his block factory through the Fund’s new funding scheme to encourage Omani entrepreneurs as part of Sharakah’s objectives. The block factory is located in ALBatinah-Suwaiq.

Mr. Dinkar Kishor, Assistant General Manager (Operations) of of Sharakah confirmed, “We supported 7 projects in 2008 and few projects already completed the construction and will be operational soon. The Fund will support the following sectors mainly: Hospitality industry ( Restaurants, Coffee shops, motels), Leisure & Entertainment, Down stream manufacturers, Information Technology,Education and training,Support Services to construction industry, tourism etc.

The Sharakah (Youth Fund) program is owned and operated by the Fund for the Development of Youth Projects. Its core mission is to provide equity and other means of financial support to small & medium scale enterprises owned by Omani entrepreneurs.

26/04/2009
Sharakah participates in Caledonian Careers Fair held on 26-27th April 09

Sharakah – Fund for Development of Youth Projects (S.A.O.C.) has taken part in the 11th Annual Careers Fair of Caledonian College of Engineering which was inaugurated on 26th April 09 by H. E. Sayyid Hamad Bin Hilal Al Busaidi, Labour Under Secretary, Ministry of Manpower.

During the fair The Fund promoted the profile to a large number of students and visitors. The Fund also explained the financial assistance scheme and other benefits in more detail to the qualifying young Omani graduates who are interested to establish their own business as part of Fund’s objectives.

Sharakah (Youth Fund) is owned and operated by the Fund for the Development of Youth Projects (S.A.O.C.), established by a Royal Decree as a private company dedicated to Promotion, Development and Financing of Small & Medium Enterprise. It encourages young Omani Entrepreneurs to start their own business ventures by providing Equity and other financial support.

25/04/2009
Sharakah wins prestigious Oman Web Awards

The website (www.youthfund.com.om) of Sharakah – Fund for Development of Youth Projects (S.A.O.C.) has won the prestigious Oman Web Awards in the category for Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) or Non Profit Organisation (NPO) at last week’s prize distribution ceremony.

Mr. Hani M. Al Zubair, Chairman of the Youth Fund received the Bronze award on behalf of the Fund in the glittering event held at Al Bustan Palace Hotel. The Youth Fund website was revamped and redesigned recently, which appears to be more attractive and user friendly with all relevant information useful to existing and potential SMEs.

The Youth Fund website has also been nominated for the Pan Arab Web Awards competition which will take place at Burj Al Arab Hotel on April 25, 2009.

Sharakah (Youth Fund) program is owned and operated by the Fund for the Development of Youth Projects. Its core objective is to provide Equity and other means of financial support to Small & Medium Enterprises owned by Omani Entrepreneurs.

16/02/2009
Sharakah supports the promoter through bill discounting scheme

Sharakah (Youth Fund) supported last year Jassim Darwish Hassan ALMaamary for lab supplying chemicals project through the bill discounting scheme as part of its objectives. This project financing was very successful and the Fund has realized its payments as per the agreement between the Fund and the Promoter. The limit is available for reuse.

Sharakah is ready to assist the entrepreneurs to have achievements in their projects through guidance, advise and proper follow up etc. At Sharakah, we are committed to support Omani entrepreneurs who have demonstrated skill, passion and business acumen in establishing and growing their businesses.

The Sharakah (Youth Fund) program is owned and operated by the Fund for the Development of Youth Projects. Its core mission is to provide equity and other means of financial support to small & medium scale enterprises owned by Omani entrepreneurs.

09/02/2009
Sharakah supports in the Legal Training Center

Sharakah (Youth Fund) recently extended its support to Said Al Shahry Legal Training Center LLC to 1st legal training institute in Oman which provides professional legal training to freshers as well as professionals. Said Al Shahry Law office has highly experienced Senior Omani and foreign lawyers with extensive local and international expertise.

Asked about the support and services of Sharakah, Said Al Shahry responded: “We were pleased to work with Sharakah in developing our business and moving forward. Sharakah really supported us to achieve our milestone for the success opening this institution”.

Zuweina Al Badai, Project Officer of Sharakah said, “We are delighted to support training centres, as their business continues to grow and Omani students can train properly for their career growth in order to start their own businesses which will help them for a successful entrepreneur”. Recently Sharakah also facilitated services repeatedly to their existing entrepreneurs for various services.

The Sharakah (Youth Fund) program is owned and operated by the Fund for the Development of Youth Projects. Its core mission is to provide equity and other means of financial support to small & medium scale enterprises owned by Omani entrepreneurs.

26/01/2009
Sharakah, KOM sign MOU

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Sharakah (Youth Fund) and Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) at KOM Offices on 26th January 2009 to assist both organizations through their various activities.

The MOU was signed on behalf of KOM by Mr Hilal Bin Hamed Al Ahsani, Chief Executive Officer and Mr. Said Salim Al Sahib, Vice Chairman of the Youth Fund signed on behalf of the Fund.

The FDYP will support Omani Entrepreneurs in TKM by providing funding services, evaluating their new projects including guidance to business plan and operational aspects etc. The Fund also provide to KOM tenants different topics of workshops related to business.

The KOM will support and create awareness of the Fund through their medias and the programmes conducting as per their calendar activities scheduled for the year. The Vice Chairman expressed his thanks and gratitude to KOM for supporting the Fund

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Sharakah (Youth Fund) program is owned and operated by the Fund for the Development of Youth Projects. Its core objective is to provide Equity and other means of financial support to Small & Medium Enterprises owned by Omani Entrepreneurs.

06/01/2016
Sharakah receives Best Enterprise Award from Europe Business Assembly (EBA)

Sharakah was recently awarded as the “Best Enterprise” in the field of Small and Medium Enterprises financial support at the Europe Business Assembly (EBA). The General Manager Abdullah Al Jufaili was also awarded the Best Manager for the year 2015 in SME support category.

The prestigious international award was conferred upon Sharakah by Europe Business Assembly (EBA), Oxford, United Kingdom. The Europe Business Assembly (EBA) is an international corporation of social partnership established in the year 2000 in Oxford, UK. Its main objectives are to develop and promote social and economic links between companies, investors, education establishments, cities and countries worldwide. The main purpose of EBA is to reward the hard work of individuals and institutes that contribute towards the development of the society culture, science, and economics.

Sharakah was nominated for the award based on the basis of its significant contribution to the national economy by active support to SMEs, Special financial solutions and programs, Assistance for private entrepreneurship development, and the positive image in regional media. As part of Sharakah’s contribution to capacity building and skills development, Sharakah delivers workshops titled "Dynamic Entrepreneurship" to students & entrepreneurs to develop a deeper understanding of cash flows statements and enlightening the participants of different factors that could affect business performance.

In its effort to equip aspiring entrepreneurs, Sharakah tied up with several organizations to assess and develop SMEs. Sharakah has developed a Business Performance Monitoring Tool that enables it to monitor the progress of businesses that Sharakah has supported and ensure that they are on the right track. All this was taken into consideration by EBA while giving the award for “Best Enterprise” in the field of Small and Medium Enterprises financial support and its General Manager Mr. Abdullah Jufaili “The Best Manager Award”.

Sharakah is an ISO certified organization applying best practices to ensure that they serve the entrepreneurs in an efficient manner. In 2010, Sharakah was awarded the Special SME Finance Award during the Mediterranean Awards for Global Excellence in Islamic Finance held in Malta.

Few of the SMEs that Sharakah supported received renowned awards for their performance. This includes Ms. Rayan Al Kalbani, Founder of Mazoon Environmental and Technological Services being first Omani woman entrepreneur to be inducted into Women in Science Hall of Fame of the US Department of State, Revolution Group Exercise (Rev Gx) won the best small and medium enterprise (SME) award at the Omantel Excellence Awards in 2013. This was followed by the Entrepreneur Conclave Award in 2014. Love at First Bite also received Travelex Oman Tourism Ambassador Awards and Best Brand in The Gulf at Kuwait. Lab Scientific was awarded Best Enterprise at Omantel Business Excellence SME Awards and best performing company at the National Business Center (NBC) for 2 consecutive years.
14/02/2016
Mint Marketing receives Financial Support from Sharakah

Mint Marketing recently signed an agreement with Sharakah to receive financial support. The agreement entails that Mint Marketing will receive funding as well as business development services that would enable them to expand and take the business to the next level. The financial support aims at covering mostly the working capital and cost of capital for purchasing few assets.

Mint Marketing founders and owners Issra Ahmed Ibrahim and Imad Ahmed Hassan are fully dedicated to the business. The business which specializes in marketing and branding is one of the incubated companies in the National Business Center and has been operational for 3 years.

Both Issra and Imad have extensive experience in the field as they have worked in several reputed organization earlier in their career before deciding to venture into their own business. Issra is earned her MBA from Bedfordshire University in the UK. She has more than 11 years of working experience in several organizations including Gulf Brands Company, Al Madina Financial and Alliance Housing Bank. Imad is a professional photographer who specializes in (corporate photography).

Commenting at the signing Abdullah Al Jufaili, Sharakah General Manager said “This is the first time that we have supported a marketing and branding firm. We have called out to much knowledge based SMEs and we informed them that we are considering their requirements of working capital; however we haven’t been successful in the past in attracting such businesses. We believe that the essences of such businesses are the entrepreneurs behind the business and we are confident that both Issra and Imad have what it takes to take Mint Marketing to the next level”.

“Mint is a branding and marketing company that prescribes the ideal recipe for any brand to guarantee its success. Since establishment, Mint launched more than 30 successful Omani brands, and established a sister company in Bahrain. We are aiming at moving to the next level and we believe that the support offered to us by Sharakah will enable us to do so”. Said Issra

Sharakah`s focus is on SME`s sustainability, so their support goes far beyond financing. Recently they have introduced many mechanisms and tools to help them asses the progress of the business and guide the owners towards achieving success. In year 2015, Sharakah has sanctioned 12 projects with a total investment amount of OMR 587,000. These include new projects and recurring clients who have asked for additional finance. With confident efforts, Sharakah aims to increase the number of the sanctioned projects for 2016 and aspire to be the SME supporting organization that everyone is proud to be associated with.
01/02/2016
New SME supported by Sharakah launched yesterday

Zurbian Yemeni Restaurant was inaugurated last night under the patronage of Mr. Khalifa bin Saeed Al Abri, CEO of the Public Authority for SME Development (Riyada). The inauguration ceremony attracted a crowd of audience consisted of officials from SME development organizations and relevant organizations.

Zurbian aims at providing a dining experience of traditional Yemeni food. What makes this restaurant unique is the “Zurbian” dish, which is slow cooked mandy rice with meat topped with savory cashew nuts and fried onions. Zurbian Restaurant is one of the largest Yemeni restaurants in Muscat. It can cater up to 100 guests at a given time that is aside from four private rooms for families.

Zurbian is owned by Younis Al Harrasi, a young 26 year old Omani entrepreneur. Younis is fully dedicated to running this business and two other businesses that he earlier created. He ensured that Zuribian gives his guests the complete Yemeni cuisine experience as he paid attention to minor details. Zuribian offers a fusion of different dishes of Yemeni food all under one roof.

At the event Younis Al Harrasi said “Months of hard work is finally paying off as we officially open doors for guests to our restaurant. We have already done a soft launch a month back and the turn up is overwhelming. Sharakah has been very supportive throughout and we are sure that will benefit a great deal from their support.”

Mr. Khalifa Al Abri also commented “Since the SME Symposium at Seih Al Shamikhat, we have seen the number of Omanis launching their own business increasing. This shows that all the efforts invested by concerned public and private sector organization are paying off. We are delighted to be here tonight to witness the beginning of yet another SME managed by a young Omani. We wish them all the success and their upcoming exciting journey.”

"We are proud to see youth endeavor to depend on themselves and create jobs for themselves and others. Indeed, the majority of businesses supported lately are in the food and beverages sector. That shows that there is a slight change in the way of living and definitely there is demand in the market.” Said Halima Al Riyami

24/05/2016
Sharakah is awarded with THE BIZZ 2016 for its distinguished business excellence

Date: 24th of May 2016

Sharakah is awarded with THE BIZZ 2016 for its distinguished business excellence

Sharakah was recently awarded by the World Confederation of Businesses (WORLDCOB) with one of the world’s most important business awards: “BIZZ 2016”. This recognition was granted in May 15th in a gala ceremony held at Le Méridien Beach Plaza, Montecarlo, Monaco.

In previous editions, The BIZZ Awards was held in cities such as Houston, New York, Punta Cana, Panama, Cusco, Rome, Mumbai, Orlando, Barcelona, Miami / Bahamas, Doha, Paris, Los Cabos, Dubai, Venice, Hawaii, Abu Dhabi, Athens, Las Vegas and Muscat.

WORLDCOB is a leading business organization located in Houston, Texas that promotes the development and growth of more than 3,000 companies in over 120 countries and recognizes and boosts the growth of the outstanding companies and businesspeople as well as promoting the corporate social responsibility. And it makes it through The BIZZ, an award that recognizes the business excellence.

Sharakah’s General Manager, Abdullah Al Jufaili when receiving the prize said that it is an honor to receive this prestigious award in this ceremony with WORLDCOB and we truly thank the organizers of the event for recognizing our efforts as this drives us to achieve more in the coming years.

Sharakah was incorporated by a Royal Decree back in 1998 to support the development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Sultanate of Oman to offer services including creating awareness about the importance of Entrepreneurship and SMEs; Providing financial support for new and existing businesses; and providing consultation and advice to business owners to ensure their progress and sustainability.

14/07/2016
Until June 9 Projects Worth of OMR 438,000 have received Support from Sharakah

Sharakah announced this week that it has as of June provided financial support to 9 projects at a value of OMR 438,000 against projected 10- to 12 projects at a value of OMR 780,000 this year. Despite the market slow down there has significant activities from the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector.

On a statement shared by the General Manager, Abdullah Al Jufaili, he said “We anticipated earlier this year that SMEs would still continue to grow despite the market condition. Start-ups in general have a better advantage when entering a market that is being affected by an economic downturn. They are very much aware of challenges in the market and can align their strategies to overcome them.”

On a questions raised if Sharakah will stop taking new applications, Al Jufaili responded “No we will continue to accept applications. However, we would be more prudent to align with our diversification of sectors strategies. To date, the majority of businesses that we have supported are in the services sectors. In fact more than 70% are from the food and beverages sectors. That has been as a response in changes in consumers lifestyle, increase of the number of tourists and interest from the business owners themselves to own a food joint. Going forward we will still support unique projects in those fields, but we would like to concentrate more on industrial and innovative projects.”

Mohamed Al Lawati, Marketing Specialist said “The number of inquiries and people walking-in has noticeably increased this year. We were used to getting 45 inquiries per month and now it has crossed ## per month. We have also been very busy responding to inquiries from our social media channels. It seems overall that our marketing strategy is paying off and we are getting more applications.”

Recently this year, Sharakah received an award for the Best Inspiring Organization from the World Confederation of Business in a ceremony held in Monte Carlo. Indeed, the objective is not just to provide financial support rather to take these SMEs to the next level.

Zuwaina Al Badai, Investment Manager at Sharakah added “We maintain track of how many applications we receive and from which sectors. We are noticing an improvement in the quality of the business plans. There are general consensus to start a business in the food and beverage sector; However we would like to draw the attention of potential SMEs that there are so many opportunities in the manufacturing sector.”
24/03/2016
Sharakah Annual General Meeting 2015

Sharakah held its Annual General Meeting for the financial year ended 31 December, 2015 on 24th March, 2016 presided by Mr. Said Al Sahib, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, with the attendance of the Board of Directors, Shareholders and officials from the concerned authorities.

Mr. Said started the meeting by welcoming the attendees and presenting Sharakah`s achievements during the year 2015. He mentioned that Sharakah invested a total of OMR 587,000 in SMEs. The total number of projects supported during the year was 31 and that includes 19 projects that received grants through Khazzan Project for SME Development sponsored by BP and managed by Sharakah.

He added “Four of the SMEs supported by Sharakah paid their dues in 2015. All of which are delivering good results. The total amount received was OMR 104,000. Indeed, most of the projects supported are continuing to grow. Since 2011 50 projects received financial support of which 16 of them have completely settled their dues and 32 are growing at a steady rate. The success rate stands at 96%, which is far better than the global average.

“During the year as well, Sharakah launched its annual event, Sharakah Forum, which attracted the attention of SMEs and several other organizations regionally. Given its success, Sharakah is planning to organize this event every year. As a consequence, inquires and applications that Sharakah receives has increased and more people know about the services provided to SMEs.” Said Mr. Said

The AGM as well discussed and approved the Audited Financial Statements for the year 2015 and the appointment of the Statutory Auditor for the financial year ending in 31 December, 2016.

Mr. Said Al Sahib concluded by conveying his gratitude to His Majesty the Sultan for the endless support to Small and Medium Enterprises in Oman. And greatly appreciated the support that SME`s in general and Sharakah in particular received from His Majesty. He also thanked the shareholders for the support they have shown.

04/05/2016
Browny Popcorn opens its doors to customers.

Browny Popcorn has opened its doors recently at Panorama Mall to all the popcorn fans to enjoy the new gourmet popcorn in Oman. The business is offering its customers gourmet popcorn with 12 different and exotic flavors such as Oreo, Digestive, Caramel and more. Browny Popcorn ensures that the popcorn is freshly prepared daily without the use of any preservatives or artificial colors.

This idea is a brain child of two young entrepreneurs who possess the skills and capabilities to run a successful enterprise Abdullah Al Dughaishi and Issa Al Hooti. “We have been entertaining the idea of creating our own enterprise since November 2013 and we have faced a number of challenges both at the early stages. However, we were very much aware that it is not going to be a smooth ride. The entrepreneurship journey is full of excitement and we believe that we have achieved an important milestone by opening our first branch. Our current objective is to make more people aware of the delicious and tasty popcorn and our long turn objective is to expand nationally.” commented Abdullah AL Dughaish- owner of Browny Popcorn.

The project got support from Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah). Commenting on this Mr. Mohamed Al Lawati, Marketing Specialist at Sharakah said "it always gives us pleasure at Sharakah to see a new business transforming from a concept on paper to a real business. To achieve that, it takes a combination of a good idea, dedicated & skillful entrepreneur and a clear business plan based on the right market conditions. Browny Popcorn has met all of those general criteria and we believe that it has potential to grow”

31/08/2016
BP Oman Khazzan SME Development Programme

Sharakah started the disbursement process of the grant provided by BP Oman to the selected 19 Small and Medium Enterprises SMEs that participated in the Khazzan project for SME Development. 26 SMEs participated in the program this year representing the Governorates of Ad Dhahirah and Ad Dakhiliyah and Muscat. All of which have competed a two-months intensive program on business strategic planning.

Khazzan project for SME Development is one of BP Oman social investment programs that aims at supporting the development of SMEs in Oman. The program approach is to assess existing SMEs to identify their strength and weaknesses. Further a business plan is developed for each business and agrant worth OMR 5,000 from BP Oman is provided to help improve business performance.

Over the past 2 weeks, experts from Sharakah (The program supervisor) and Inspired Solutions (Implementer) visited these SMEs to get a better understanding of the products and services that they offer and to get a better understanding of areas that needs improvement in their business operations.

The SMEs who participated in the program represented different sectors including Renewal Energy field, Oilfield Services, Telecommunications, Nursery, Plantation, Dates Processing, Ladies Gym, Tour Operator, Photography & Videography, Motor Garage, tailoring and Selling of Aluminum Doors.

The program focused on the following areas, business planning, cash flow management, market research, marketing and branding. By the end of the program, each SME developed a strategic plan for the years to come.

Commenting on this Shabib Al Mamari, Communication & External Affairs Manager of BP Oman said “We are pleased to see that the program has achieved its objectives and we are delighted that it has helped upgrading the quality of the SMEs who have participated. At BP, we believe in the importance of developing the local capacity and we value the role played by SMEs in economic and social growth.”

Abdullah Al Jufaili, Sharakah’s General Manager also commented “Sharakah values the trust given by BP Oman to supervise the implementation of this program and we are glad that we have succeeded to deliver the intending objectives. The SMEs that enrolled in this program exhibited true entrepreneurial spirits. It was evident that they are very dedicated in growing their business and applying best practices.”

William R. Crew the Founder of Inspired Solutions praised that, “The competition for the grants was very intense, with 24 Omani SMEs competing for 19 non repayable growth grants of up to OMR 5,000 each. The winning grantees were those who demonstrated the most initiative in completing their applications in a timely manner, had a clearly articulated vision for how they would use the BP-financed grants to grow their businesses, and had the most realistic approach to their projected performances. I would like to personally commend all of the applicants who graduated the training and coaching and competed; all of them are excellent examples of the entrepreneurial spirit we are fostering here in Oman. ”

21/08/2016
Sharakah welcomes a delegation from Qatar Development Bank

Sharakah welcomed yesterday a delegation from Qatar Development Bank (QDB) as part of their visit program in Oman to meet with SME development organizations. The Qatari delegation was headed by AbdulAziz Nasser Al Khalifa, CEO of QDB and accompanied by senior officials of the bank. The objective of the visit is to explore opportunities for collaboration in the area of SME development.

The delegation was received by Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah and other senior officials. Mohamed Al Lawati, Sharakah’s Marketing Specialist delivered a presentation where he highlighted what Sharakah offers to SMEs, its achievements in the past 5 years and some examples of the SMEs supported. The discussion then focused on areas of mutual interest.

Commenting on this, Mohamed Al Lawati said "We are delighted to welcome Qatar Development Bank delegation to Oman and Sharakah. We believe that such visits provide an opportunity to exchange knowledge, share best practices and open opportunities for collaboration.”

Likewise, Mohammed Al-Mansouri, Head Of SME`s Networking & Matchmaking at Qatar Development Bank said "We are pleased to have met with our counterparts in Oman and delighted to learn more about Sharakah. Our objectives for this visit are to Share experiences in SMEs development, discuss and exchange best practices, discuss how to facilitate SME access to the local market and explore best practices in supporting the local community (In Country Value)

20/09/2016
BP Oman and Sharakah Renew Collaboration in an Effort to Develop Omani SMEs

BP Oman and Sharakah signed an agreement this morning which will launch the third consecutive year of the Khazzan Project for SME Development. According to the agreement, BP will fund the 12 months program while Sharakah, the implementing partner, will be responsible for developing 20 SMEs by analyzing their performance and identifying areas for their improvement. Sharakah will also be responsible for monitoring the performance of these SMEs during the period of 12 months. At the end of the period, the SMEs will receive a nonrefundable grant from BP to help them grow their businesses.

The agreement was signed by Mr. Yousuf Al Ojaili, President of BP Oman and Abdullah Al Jufaili, Sharakah’s General Manager in the presence of Vice Chairman Said Al Sahib and Shabib Al Maamari, BP Oman’s Communications and External Affairs Manager.

Existing SMEs from all governorates are invited to register in the program online at http://bp.Sharakah.om. After registration, Sharakah will be screening the applications and will shortlist twenty eligible projects to undergo the development program that will focus on the following functions: Administration, Human Resources, Branding, Marketing, Finance, Quality and Applying Best Practices.

Commenting on the agreement, Yousuf Al Ojaili, BP Oman President said “We at BP Oman believe in the importance of supporting Omani SMEs. The fruitful results of our previous two years of collaboration with Sharakah in developing Omani SME, encourages us to continue this program for a third year. We look forward to working with Omani SMEs and helping to grow this important sector of the Omani economy.”

Sharakah’s General Manager, Abdullah Al Jufaili was pleased to sign the agreement and he said “We are delighted to renew the agreement with BP for the third consecutive year and we are honored to gain BP’s confidence in implementing the project. We would like to increase the competitive advantage of these SMEs by improving their performance and increasing their productivity.”

03/11/2016
Registration for Khazzan Project for SME Development is Still Open

Registration is still open for Khazzan Project for SME Development. An official at Sharakah confirmed that more than 190 applications have been received until date and they welcome more people to register. The project is one of BP Oman Social Investment Programs and is managed and implemented by Sharakah. The objective is to select 20 SMEs from all over the Sultanate, assess their performance and guide them towards applying best practices to sustain and grow.

Mundhir Al Manji, Founder and Manager, Bella Luna Production said “We encourage all business owners specially those who are keen to grow their business, to participate in this project. The 1-to-1 sessions has helped us to assess our business and identify areas that need further improvement.”

According to Fatma Al Kindi, Project Specialist at Sharakah “Registration is still open and we are welcoming SMEs from all governorates. We have a very simple registration process via the website http://bp.sharakah.om. Those who are interested to know more can also call us to ask any questions.”

03/11/2015
Ice Cream Mama Dazzle Their Way Into The Finals At The Gelato World Summit Contest

When you think of food and Italian, you think of Pizza, Pasta and delicious Gelato and showcasing their expertise in the field of ice cream making & creation is exactly what Ice Cream Mama proved in the qualifying rounds held at the recent Gelato World Summit Contest held in Dubai on 30th and 31st October, 2016. The 100% Omani SME sizzled its way into the finals being the only Omani company as well and only Arab participant to qualify into the finals.

Promoted by the Italian Cuisine World Summit, this year’s competition saw 16 participants from all over the world including 5-Star International Hotels and Food and Beverage Chains competing to make the best and highest quality of gelato.

Ice Cream Mama, represented at the competition by the original founder and co-owner, Rami Al Lawati, was beyond ecstatic upon receiving the news of his qualification making him one of the five participants chosen to compete in the finals to be held in Dubai on 9th November, 2016. “For an SME from Oman to be chosen as a finalist amongst internationally renowned brands, is really an achievement and goes to show how good our products really are”, said Rami Al Lawati.

Ice Cream Mama was established in 2013 and now has 3 branches in Muscat – Shatti Al Qurum (next to the cinema), Qurum (on the PDO road), Mawalah South (Oman Oil petrol pump) The company serves their classic and variety-filled ‘Mama Originals’ and their recently launched lines, ‘Mama Softey’ and ‘Mama Yougurts’. The proud Omani SME is soon to also set up shop in Al Khuwair 42 and 18th November Street.

30/11/2016
Sharakah Forum on 16 January, 2017

Sharakah and Riyada held a press conference yesterday at Oman Convention & Exhibition Center during Ebdaat Omaniya exhibition to announce the launch of the second edition of Sharakah Forum, which is an annual event organized and managed by Sharakah. Sharakah Forum discusses specific topics related to SME development.

This year Sharakah Forum will focus on Technology & Entrepreneurship. The discussions will be around the importance of building a proper IT infrastructure for the business, the importance of protecting the data, how to get productive with business applications, the utilization of gadgets and mobile apps to serve the business, emerging technologies and opportunities for SMEs, and the use of digital media to promote the business.

Riyada signed an agreement with Sharakah to renew its alliance as a Strategic Partner for Sharakah Forum. The agreement was signed by Khalid Al Haraibi, Deputy CEO for Operations Riyada and Abdullah Al Jufali, GM Sharakah. At the signing Al Haraibi commented “It is a pleasure to cooperate with Sharakah in the second edition of the forum. The success of the first edition has positively impacted the SME community and we are excited about the event in its second year. As a Strategic Partner, we will work closely with Sharakah team to ensure that the event is well executed.”

Abdullah Al Jufaili, GM, Sharakah also said “We are grateful to Riyada for supporting our event once again and we are confident that this cooperation will lead to executing a successful event. We are inviting technology experts from various fields to share their knowledge and experience in Sharakah Forum. Our aim is to educate SMEs on the best practices related to the usage of technological solutions.”

He added “The 2-day forum will be held on 16 and 17 of January, 2017 at Muscat Grand Millennium Hotel. The event will host local, regional and international speakers who will share their knowledge and experience.”

Further, Mohamed Al Lawati, Marketing Specialist at Sharakah said: "The first edition of Sharakah Forum was a success. Participants’ comments and feedback were very positive. We encourage everyone to register as there are limited seats. Those who are interested can register via the event site at http://forum.sharakah.om. "
06/12/2016
RX Fitness Center Launched

Under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Rashad Al-Hinai, Undersecretary for the Ministry of Sports Affairs, RX Fitness and Cross Fit Center was officially inaugurated last night. The inauguration ceremony was attended by officials from Sharakah and sports enthusiast. RX Fitness which is located in Al Ghubra offers cross fit training, martial art course and weight lifting facilities.

Speaking at the ceremony His Excellency Sheikh Rashad Al-Hinai said “I am delighted to see that there is strong interest in the community about the physical wellbeing and body fitness. I am further glad to see a group of young Omanis turning their passion in fitness and martial arts to a business. It is great to see that the business owners themselves are actually certified trainers and very much involved in the business. A project as such meets a number of objectives in the community including creating healthier community members, encouraging youngsters to do something more productive with their spare time and surely diversifying the economy via SME support.”

Rashid Al-Barwani, Founder and a Certified Martial Artist and Fitness Trainer commented “I started this business back in 2011 and we went through numerous challenges to reach to where we are today. We have managed over the past years to grow the business from a single location to 2 locations and we have already changed the life of hundreds by helping them become healthier and more fit. I believe that a healthier community is more productive and through this project we will contribute to the social economic development of Oman. Above all though, this is something that I love to do and I am happy to be able to help many health and fitness enthusiast train, enjoy and become healthier.”

Mohamed Al Sharji, Business Partner and Certified CrossFit Trainer also commented “RX business concept is to create a fitness facility that everyone feels that it is their own and we have managed to do so. We have instilled the sense of ownership to all our clients. If you attend any of our training sessions, you would experience the positive energy shared by all trainees. As a matter of fact, this facility was setup by the help of many of our trainees who volunteered out of their busy schedule to take a role in organizing the place.”

Said Al-Marhoobi, Business Partner also commented and CrossFit Athlete “Over the past few years, we have helped a number of locals to gear up for a challenge that they wanted to undertake. Amongst many that we have helped are Rumaitha Al Busaidy, who was the first Omani to climb mount Kilimanjaro, Ahmed Al-Harthy, Anisa Al Raisi and many more. We have specialized training programs to fit the requirement of our clients and we invite everyone to come and try a session with us. We assure them that they will find it enjoyable.”

RX Fitness team consist of a diversified athletic experts who are certified trainers in CrossFit, Pilates, Zumba, Yoga, Bootcamp, TRX, Aikido, Taekwondo, Karate, Muay Thai and BJJ. RX is planning to be the first to introduce an exclusive Muscat Martial Art Academy (MMA). This Academy will cater to different martial art disciplines under one roof designed to prepare Martial arts competitive athletes to represent Oman internationally.

RX received financial support from Sharakah to expand the business and increase its market reach. Prior to that RX won several awards including Omantel SME Awards and Entrepreneur Conclave. Speaking at the ceremony Abdullah Al-Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah said “We firstly thank His Excellency Sheikh Rashad Al-Hinai for accepting our invitation to be the Guest of Honor. Indeed, the Ministry of Sports Affairs is very much supportive of athletes and SMEs. RX is set to expand and we believe of the business model and the dedication of the business owners. Congratulations to the founder for reaching this far and we expect the business to grow even further.”

28/12/2016
Sharakah held "Ruwad Sharakah Gathering" in Barr Al Jissah

Sharakah held last night a gathering for all the businesses that received financial support under the name Ruwad Sharakah Gathering. The event was held under the patronage of Hani M. Al Zubair, Chairman of Fund for Development of Youth Projects and the presence of Khalid Al Haraibi Deputy CEO of Riyada, Board Members of Sharakah, Sharakah staff and the supported SMEs.

The whole purpose of the event was to provide a platform for the supported businesses to network with each other and meet with board members and staff. In the past 6 years, Sharakah has provided financial support to about 60 projects. 20 of which have already paid back the finance amount, 38 are still maintaining a steady payment plan. The event was attended by 35 business owners and they have all appreciated this initiative from Sharakah.

Mr. Hani Al Zubair, Chairman welcomed everyone and expressed his pride of what these businesses have achieved over the past few years. He added “This is an opportunity for us to get to know your businesses further and to understand what type of products or services you are offering.”

Issra, Owner and Founder of Mint Marketing also commented :”We find Ruwad Sharakah Gathering truly valuable as it aims to introducing SMEs to each other, explore more about the business practices and strategies and also to seek to collaborate on future business opportunities. I believe this kind of events should occur more frequently as it strengthens the ties between all SMEs and with Sharakah as well."

"We find a noticeable variation in the nature of the small and medium enterprises supported by Sharakah. Some of the SMEs are operating in the industrial sector, others operating in the service sector and some of them are into the food and beverage sector as well. This diversified nature of SMEs will allow all parties to exchange valuable knowledge in addition to find business opportunities in cooperating on commercial projects." Said Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah.
28/02/2017
Sharakah inks cooperation agreement with Al Madina Insurance Company
Al Madina Insurance Company and Sharakah signed an agreement yesterday which which aims to further benefit the small and medium enterprises in Oman.  According to the agreement, the small and medium enterprises supported by Sharakah will benefit from three main services from Al Madina Insurance Group, which are preferred Insurance rates on insurance for SME customers of Sharakah, dedicated Service and Focal point specially designated by Al Madina Insurance Company and one-stop insurance solution for the SMEs supported by Sharakah. Furthermore, both companies will jointly conduct SME insurance awareness programs from time to time with mutual consent.



The agreement was signed by Mr. Ajay Srivastava, Chief Operating Officer of Al Madina Insurance Company and Abdullah Al Jufaili, Sharakah’s General Manager.

Commenting on the agreement, Mr. Ajay Srivastava, Chief Operating Officer of Al Madina Insurance Company said “We are glad to sign this agreement with Sharakah as we believe in offering customized services to further benefit the small and medium enterprises in Oman and we look forward for a fruitful collaboration.”

Sharakah’s General Manager, Abdullah Al Jufaili was pleased to sign the agreement and he said “We are happy to sign the agreement with Al Madina Insurance Company as we believe in adding more value to the SMEs. The mutual benefits will smooth the development of SMEs in general and those supported by Sharakah will have easier ways of having insurance.”
25/01/2017
Sharakah receives Golden Plate of Excellence award
Sharakah was recently awarded "Golden Plate of Excellence" in the field of social responsibility from the Arab Organization for Social Responsibility.
The prestigious international award was conferred upon Sharakah by the Arab Organization for Social Responsibility in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Arab Organization for Social Responsibility is a non-governmental organization working with the states members of the league of Arab states to raise awareness about the concept of social responsibility regionally through workshops and conventions. The excellence award is given as encouragement for the organizations in the field of social responsibility and shed the light on successful examples across the region.
Sharakah was nominated for the award based on the clear visibility of the concept of social responsibility in the organization`s objectives, its participation in activities related to social responsibility such as job creations for Omanis and also establishing small and medium enterprises and its development as it is of high importance to further enhance the national economy from the socio-economic perspective, which will contribute to increasing the competitive capabilities to the organizations overall.
The organization is self-sustainable through varies practices; a financial investment is allocated for each year to support the small and medium enterprises and to cover the costs. The remaining amount is put for investing in other programs ensuring the self-sustainability. This was achieved through the actual growth of the assets from OMR 6.3 million since incorporation to approximately OMR 9 million by the end of 2016. Since Sharakah is non-for-profit organization, the revenues are invested in the development of the small and medium enterprises. In the past seven years, Sharakah has supported 103 projects wroth of OMR 4.3 million and aims to support more projects each year,
Sharakah is an ISO certified organization since 2010, applying best practices to ensure that they serve the entrepreneurs in an efficient manner. In 2016, Sharakah provided financial support to 16 projects with investments exceeding OMR 800,000.
During the award`s ceremony, Mohamed Al Lawati, Marketing Specialist said: "We are honored to receive this prestigious award from the Arab Organization for Social Responsibility, which motivates and drives us to put in more efforts towards the development of SMEs and applying the concepts of social responsibility. We thank the organization for recognizing our efforts and for also organizing this ceremony."
04/01/2017
SMEs also hit by payment delays, cash-flow woes
Omani small and medium enterprises (SME) can take heart from the government`s pledge, articulated in the newly unveiled 2017 State Budget, to address their funding and cash-flow challenges - part of a litany of woes that have weighed down small businesses in the Sultanate in 2016.
The Budget Statement affirms a commitment to supporting speedy payments to SMEs, as well as meeting their funding needs through soft loans from Al Raffd Fund and Oman Development Bank. It also reiterates a pledge to support small businesses by allocating a percentage of government contracts to SMEs.
It is now evident that delayed payments, cash-flow constraints and limited access to credit - the bane of the contracting sector in Oman for the past two years - are also hurting small businesses in a significant way.
Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah, a closed joint stock company set up by a Royal Decree to support SMEs, says it`s been relatively tough-going for small businesses. "2016 hasn`t been a very good year for SMEs in the light of the economic situation," he said, nothing that payment delays have been part of the challenges faced by small firms.
"At the moment, some of these (outstanding) payments have exceeded 120 days, which really poses serious liquidity challenges for SMEs. Ideally, payment terms should not exceed 60 days, if possible even 30 days. in order for an SME to have the cash flow to be able to pay their salaries, expenses, rent and so on."
Access to banking credit, which the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) has stipulated should not be anything less than 5 per cent of lender`s total credit, is also proving problematic for SMEs, said Al Jufaili. "Quite honestly, banks have (not been forthcoming) with funding support during the past six months. Since June, some banks have been very selective than before in proving credit. But I would rather wait for the CBO to come up with its assessment of the size of lending to SMEs for this year, compared to 2015."
Also getting short-shrift is the stipulation that 10 per cent any government contract should be outsourced to SMEs as a way of supporting small businesses. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this provision is not being fully met, according to the official.
 
Nevertheless, enforcing this provision fraught with challenges on both sides of the equation, Al Jufaili explains. "Sometimes the (main contractor), even if they would like to commit to SMEs, they would find it difficult because they are bound by their commitment to the clients to deliver on quality and efficiency, and on time within budget. So we need to work on this problem at both ends, firstly by encouraging large contractors to outsource part of their services to SMEs, and secondly by helping the SMEs themselves to upgrade their operational output and quality performance." 
13/07/2017
Sharakah Shares its Experience at a Conference in South Korea

Sharakah amongst other leading innovation and entrepreneurship development organizations in Oman received an invitation from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) to attend the 2017 Global Commercialization Conference and Workshop held in Daejeon, South Korea. The Conference and Workshop are held under the theme of “Global Commercialization for Innovative Development”. The conference will be a platform for participants to discuss the current situation, challenges and advancements relating to the global collaboration for technology transfer and commercialization.

During the event, Sharakah will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Korean Global Commercialization Center to implement active cooperation in the field of technology commercialization between Sharakah and KAIST GCC.

Sharakah will also deliver a presentation about the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in Oman along with the services that Sharakah offers. The presentation will be delivered by Mr. Dinkar Kishor, Deputy General Manager of Sharakah.

Commenting on this, Mr. Dinkar Kishor, Deputy General Manager of Sharakah said: “We are delighted to be invited to attended this prestigious event as we believe it is indeed a valuable opportunity to collaborate with international organizations on developing the technology commercialization. We thank KAIST GCC for this opportunity and looking forward to fruitful results.”

A representative of KAIST GCC also commented by saying: “We thank Sharakah for being our partner towards developing the technology commercialization and we believe their efforts, knowledge and experience in the field of startups and incubations are of high value to ensure achieving the targeted objectives.”

11/06/2017
Sharakah Announced New Funding Limit of OMR 350,000

Adapting to changes in the economic environment and to be inline with the market demand, Fund for Development of Youth Projects SAOC (Sharakah) announced yesterday on its social media accounts some updates related to their regulations and norms. Starting from 1 July, 2017.Sharakah will increase its fund limit from OMR 200,000 to 350,000. Few other changes have also been introduced including a reduction in the interest rate for the Bill Discounting Scheme and increase in the credit period.

Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah commented further “Every year we conduct a survey that is distributed to all our clients where we assess their level of satisfaction to the services offered to them. We always invite them to suggest areas for improvement. The changes that we are introducing now are in response to those suggestion, changes in the market and to be in line with our long-term objectives. Starting July of this year, we are going to increase the fund limit to OMR 350,000 from what has been OMR 200,000. The minimum amount for financial support will also be increased from OMR 10,000 to OMR 25,000. We believe that this will help us achieve our objective of supporting growth stage businesses. The new finance limit will also allow us to tap into the manufacturing sector as light manufacturing has been identified as one of the sectors that has great potential in Oman’s economy.”

He added ”We are also introducing changes in the credit period for Bill Discounting. It used to be 90 days and we are increasing it to 120 days. We know that SMEs have challenges in maintaining a positive cash flow. Some of them supply to large organizations and it takes a long time for them get paid back. We have also reduced the interest rate for the Bill Discounting Scheme.”

To date, Sharakah has invested more than OMR 6 million in SMEs. More than 150 projects have received financial support and guidance to help them grow the business. Some of the projects supported have grown in market size and customer base. Sharakah stays committed in ensuring that SMEs grow nationally and expand regionally.

05/06/2017
Big Projects Ahead for a Beneficiary of Khazzan Project for SME Development

Al-Mahri Industrial Enterprise, one of the SMEs beneficiaries of Khazzan Project for SME Development has recently been awarded a contract with Carillion Alawi. Al-Mahri Engineering specializes in producing Type B & C fences for which are made of woven steel wire and they are the most commonly used type of fences.

Nasser Al-Mahri started this business back in 2015 at the aim of making it amongst the leading companies that provides fencing solutions in Oman. He started the business using his own savings and some income that he made from other businesses he owned. Being one of the beneficiaries of the Khazzan Project for SME Development, Nasser expresses his gratitude saying: “I have enrolled in the BP Khazzan Project for SME Development to benefit from the wealth of advice and guidance by the experts in Sharakah. So far, they have helped me in identifying the areas that needs improvement, structuring a monthly status report and developing a projected cash flow for 2017. I appreciate the guidance and support offered by BP and Sharakah and I believe that they will help me be on the right course to grow.”

The Carillion Alawi contract is a major success for Nasser as this is first major project for Al-Mahri Engineering.

The Khazzan Project for SME Development is one of BP Oman’s Social Investment Programs. The project has been managed by Sharakah for the last 3 years. It aims at evaluating SMEs performance and providing them guidance and consultation whilst monitoring their performance for 12 months. In 2017, the project is targeting 24 SMEs. All SMEs undergo a process of evaluating their performance, identifying key improvement areas, developing an action plan, developing cash flow and marketing & communications plan.

Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah said “the best rewards that we can ever get from a client is seeing their business prospering. Nasser is amongst 24 other business owners who have enrolled in the program for this year. I must say that they are keeping us busy by being forthcoming with information and requests for further guidance. We take pride and joy in supporting SMEs and we wish them growth and sustainability to contribute towards socioeconomic development.”

Mr. Shabib Al Maamari, Communication and External Affairs Manager, BP Oman who visited the company to assess its progress, expressed his satisfaction of the progress made: “We are glad to see that Khazzan Project for SME Development is having a positive impact on SMEs. For such initiative to succeed there is a need for a strong commitment from the business and a dedicated mentor to guide them on the best practices. We are glad to see that businesses as such are improving their performance and have the potential to grow.”
29/05/2017
Sharakah inks collaboration with Al Musanna College of Technology

Sharakah has signed yesterday a cooperation agreement with Al Musanaa College of Technology, represented by the establishment of Entrepreneurship Cell in Al Musanaa College of Technology (ECACT). The agreement was signed by Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah and Dr. Issa Saif Al Toubi, Dean of Musanaa College of Technology.

The agreement aims to further strengthen the ties between Sharakah and ACT, by providing a mechanism to share experience about entrepreneurship with the students. . It also aims at providing guidance to students who are interested in starting their own business, on how to go about.

Commenting on this Dr. Issa Saif Al Toubi said: “We are delighted to have signed this agreement as we believe that Sharakah’s support and input is of high value. With Sharakah’s support we will achieve our objectives, and we hope this fruitful cooperation would continue to improve the ECACT.”

Umaima Al Ghadani, Investment Manager at Sharakah and the person who will be responsible of supervising the implementation of this agreement said “We believe it is a valuable opportunity to establish this collaboration with ACT. Educational institutions are important elements in the SME ecosystem. It is vital that we educate youngsters at an early stage about entrepreneurship and provide guidance to those who seek to establish their own enterprises.”

22/05/2017
Ice Cream Mama launches a special offer!

Ice Cream Mama, the locally developed franchise and the pioneer in producing traditional Omani ice creams and sweets is launching a special offer for its customers which reminisces the old days. Starting this month Ice Cream Mama customers would have an opportunity to have a second serving for free!

Explained by the founder of Ice Cream Mama, Rami Al Lawati who said “when we were young, elder women use to make this ice cream in the neighborhood and bring joy to kids. We stand by the essence of our business model which is to bring joy to all our customers. As such, we offer free ice cream to lucky customers who will find the word “FREE” on their ice cream wooden stick. This offer is valid in all our four branches.”

Ice Cream Mama is one of the local made franchise who has witnessed a growth in the past 3 years. They have started with 1 branch only and now they have 5 branches and a central factory which feeds all the branches with the fresh ingredients made. Commenting on this recent offer Zuwaina Al Badai, SME Development Manager at Sharakah said “

"We are proud of Ice Cream Mama for taking the street image to a step forward in growth. The product is an excellent source of energy and the passion and dedication of the owners is remarkable. Indeed, the unique business concept has strengthened over the past few years and is now solid as a franchise model.”

It is worth mentioning that Ice Cream Mama has expanded its scale of operations where now it owns a full-fledged factory that produces over 20 flavors of the traditional Omani ice creams in addition to various sweets, with four branches making it possible for the target customers to enjoy the high-quality products offered.
18/05/2017
Sharakah Concludes “Ruwad Sharakah” Event

Sharakah concluded its second edition of “Ruwad Sharakah” event at Crowne Plaza Muscat hotel on Tuesday 17th of May 2017 as Mr. Neil Petch, Chairman of Virtugroup was the guest speaker. The event was presided by Mr. Hani M. Al Zubair, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sharakah and attended by Sharakah’s Board Members, Staff and more than 50 entrepreneurs’ beneficiaries of Sharakah.

Commenting on this, Mohamed Al Lawati, Marketing Specialist at Sharakah said “We believe that creating a platform for our supported SMEs or how we would prefer to call them “Ruwad Sharakah” to meet and discuss their businesses is of high importance. It’s a great networking and learning platform where business owners can share expertise, exchange information and possibly execute business deals.”

Neil Petch shared his excitement of seeing so many Omani small business owners and appreciated the advancement Oman has witnessed in the past 5 years in the SME ecosystem. He also commented that the whole region has seen a positive move in SME development and pointed out the opportunities SMEs would have with growing need for technological solutions.

Amongst the entrepreneurs who attended the event is the founder and owner of New Rusayl Heights, Ms. Huda Al Saadi who commented “We have been with Sharakah since the early operations of our company which has witnessed a major growth over the past 3 years. We appreciate the opportunity Sharakah has given us to network with other SMEs. This has been a great event and we encourage Sharakah to do more of this.”
31/07/2017
Sharakah conducts a workshop for Khazzan Program beneficiaries

Sharakah conducted a workshop yesterday for the beneficiaries of Khazzan Project for SME Development. The workshop covered the importance of social media and Taiseer Business Platform. 20 SME business owners attended the workshop.

Abdullah Al Jufaili – General Manager, Sharakah welcomed the participants and stated that this workshop is part of the BP Khazzan Project for SME Development program. He mentioned that the project is one of BP Oman Social Investment Programs. The objective he mentioned is to develop and scale up the capabilities of the business owners. Al Jufaili thanked the speakers for dedicating time out of their busy schedule and sharing their experiences with the SMEs.

The workshop included a presentation about “How to use social media effectively” delivered by Mr. Said Al Busaidi, a Social Media Expert. The workshop included detailed explanation about social media and its importance in promoting SMEs products and services. Al Busaidi also talked about the importance of having a social media strategy, building a social media brand and identifying the right social media channel for the target market.

Mr. Waleed Al Musalhi, Consultant at Taiseer Platform further delivered a session about the platform and SME opportunities in Expo 2020. He highlighted the benefits of registering at Taiseer Platform and encouraged SME owners to register. He then talked about Expo 2020 and emphasized the importance of registering at the events website for opportunity to supply goods and services.

At the conclusion of the workshop, Mrs. Zuwaina Al Badaai – SME Development Manager at Sharakah said: “Khazaan Project for SME Development has achieved great success in the last 3 years and we highly value the trust of BP Oman invested in us to manage and supervise this program. To date we have supported 62 SMEs from various governorates in Oman. We are aiming to further enhance and shape up the skills of the entrepreneurs along with strengthening their capabilities through such workshops.”